Novak Djokovic fans not happy as world No 1 misses out on award nominations
Novak Djokovic looks certain to pick up plenty of awards as 2023 comes to an end, but he won’t be winning one of the most prestigious awards on the ATP Tour.
Fans of Djokovic always like to highlight their man’s generosity to his opponent on the rare occasion when he loses a match, which was in evidence once more in his defeats against Jannik Sinner at the ATP Final and the Davis Cup.
Yet despite his status as the most decorated player in the modern game, there has always been a perception that Djokovic is destined never to win the popularity prize among tennis fans outside of his own army of admirers.
That is confirmed each year when the ATP Sportsmanship Award is handed out and Djokovic’s name is never in the mix for the prize.
Prior to Casper Ruud winning the sportsmanship award last year, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have dominated the list of winners.
Federer won this award 13 times and Nadal got his hands on the prize on five occasions and this is not the only prize Djokovic has failed to win in the annual ATP awards.
The Fans’ Favourite award is handed out to the most popular player in the game and despite Djokovic being a serial winner in the game’s biggest events, he is persistently overlooked when this award is handed out.
Federer won the ATP Fans’ Favourite Award from 2003 to 2021, with his unbroken run of wins highlighting his relentless popularity in the game.
When Federer retired, Djokovic may have fancied his chances of getting in the mix for this prize, but he was not mentioned again as Nadal won the trophy last year, even though he missed much of the second half of the season due to injury.
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Djokovic will argue he won all the prizes that mattered in 2023, with his three Grand Slam wins, his success in finishing the year as world No 1 and his ATP Finals win in Turin ample compensation for his omission from these lists.
Djokovic’s vocal fans on social media have reacted with annoyance at his omission, but the world No 1 will be used to his treatment at this stage.
November 14th: Sinner defeats Djokovic in the Round Robin.
November 19th: Djokovic defeats Sinner in the final.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 19, 2023
Trying to understand why Djokovic may never be loved by the wider tennis community is a battle he may have given up on, but former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli has her view on the issue.
“I just feel that Novak raises himself and is even stronger when he is against adversity. He likes to play and compete against it,” Bartoli told Tennis365.
“I think people just got used so much to two players facing each other. If you look at the history of tennis it was (Bjorn) Borg against (John) McEnroe, it was (Pete) Sampras against (Andre) Agassi and it was Roger (Federer) against (Rafa) Nadal. You are not used to having a third one.
“The third one feels like the disruptor. You want to cheer for one or the other. You say ‘I was to cheer for Roger’ or ‘I want to cheer for Rafa’. You don’t want the third one that comes in and wins everything.
“It was more the timing than anything else. When you talk to all the players and the fans around the world, people like Novak’s personality and they have so much respect for his game.
“But one was for Roger, the elegance, against Rafa the grinder, who has won 14 times at Roland Garros. But you can’t really go to the third one.
“If Novak had played just one other player, I think he would have had a much bigger fan base.
“So I think he has gained the respect from everyone, but in terms of the love, this is slightly different. It’s just human nature to cheer for one or the other and you don’t want the third one.”
2023 Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award nominees
The player who, throughout the year, conducted himself at the highest level of professionalism and integrity, who competed with his fellow players with the utmost spirit of fairness and who promoted the game through his off-court activities.
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