Former British No 1 finds an apt word to sum up Novak Djokovic’s troubles
Former British No 1 Annabel Croft believes tennis has lived through one of the most chaotic years in its history, as she suggests Wimbledon Novak Djokovic has been treated poorly after missing several key tournaments.
Djokovic’s refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 means he missed the Australian and US Open this year, as well as the four ATP 1000 events in North America.
It means he has missed out on the chance to play for 10,000 ATP ranking points over the course of 2022 and Croft believes that sanction is too much for a player who she believes is still the best in the world.
“I think it’s appalling what’s happened and the way it’s turned out (for Djokovic),” Croft told Tennis365, in her role as a Game4Padel ambassador.
“I just think the whole thing is a mess. Not being able to play Australian and the US Open was just ridiculous.
“Then you have all the goings on with points being taken away from Wimbledon and the banning of Russian players and it just feels like there is a lot to sort out. One of the most tumultuous years we have had in tennis.”
When asked whether she felt Djokovic was still the best player in the world despite his current world ranking of No 7, Croft was convinced the rankings are not a good guide right now.
“It certainly feels like Novak is the best player in the world and I guess we will find out over the next couple of weeks at the Paris Masters and the ATP finals,” she added.
“You look at the way he played at Wimbledon, even after everything that happened to him, and it was just flawless. He was magnificent and the way he found a way to beat Nick Kyrgois in the final was so impressive.
“Make no mistake, Kygrois is very dangerous when he is at his best and he was playing some fantastic tennis at Wimbledon, but Novak found a way to neutralise him and win another major. It was so impressive.”
Djokovic has spoken in recent days about his hope that his Covid-related exile from big events will soon end, as he aims to find a way to play at the Australian Open.
In an interview with Sportal.blic.rs, Djokovic said that he is hopeful he will play in the opening Grand Slam of 2023.
“When it comes to Australia, there are some positive signs, but unofficially,” he said. “We are communicating through my lawyers in Australia. In fact, they are communicating with the authorities in charge of my case.
“I hope to have an answer in the next few weeks – whatever that answer might be, but of course I am hoping for a positive one – so that I have enough time to prepare for the start of the season if that start is going to happen in Australia.
“I really want to go there, I am over what happened this year and I just want to play tennis, it is what I do best.
“Australia has always been the place where I have played my best tennis, the results speak for themselves, so I am always extra motivated to go there. This time even more, so. I am hoping for a positive answer.
“For the choices I made, I knew there would be certain consequences like not going to America, and that is it. For Australia, it was a different case, I had the exception, but in the end it did not work out.
“We know what happened, let’s not go back. This time I am waiting for permission again. It is a good thing that they have now opened the borders for unvaccinated foreigners traveling to Australia.
“I have that ban, I hope it will be lifted. As I said, it is not in my hands, I hope the people in the Australian Government will give a positive answer, that is all.”
Djokovic will look to lay the foundation for 2023 with success in the Paris Masters and ATP Finals, as he closes in on a sparkling end to a troubled year.
Annabel Croft spoke to Tennis365 in her role as a Game4Padel ambassador, as she suggested the sport of padel is ready to take off in the UK.
“There is a lot of momentum behind padel now,” said Croft. “You hear more and more people talking about it. I hear lots of young people talking about padel and wanting to get into it.
“It really feels like the game is on an upward curve. It can engage with people who might find tennis too difficult and that’s the beauty of padel.
“Each time I play padel, I come off with a big smile on my face. It is very similar skills to tennis because of all the volleying and the touch and feel.
“I haven’t quite mastered the back wall yet, but it is a very social game. There are always a lot of smiles on court and it is a great game. I really enjoy it.”
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