Novak Djokovic: Nole likened to ‘a child who plays with fire’ by former Madrid Open boss

Novak Djokovic in action

Novak Djokovic has been likened to “a child who plays with fire and puts his hand up to see if it burns or not” by Romanian Tennis Federation President Ion Tiriac.

Twenty-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic has hit the headlines for several wrong reasons in recent years as in 2020 he organised the Adria Tour during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in him and several other players testing positive for Covid-19.

Later in 2020 he was expelled from the US Open after he accidentally hit a line judge in the throat with a ball after trying to return the ball to a ball child.

This year he missed the defence of his Australian Open trophy after he was deported from the country as Immigration Minister Alex Hawke cancelled his visa for a second time on “health and good order grounds”.

Djokovic came in for heavy criticism over his handling of the Australia situation, but he admitted in a wide-ranging interview that he is unlikely to get vaccinated any time soon, even if it results in him missing other Grand Slams like the French Open and US Open.

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Former world No 8 Tiriac, the man who put the Madrid Open on the map, gave his opinion about the world No 2 and admitted that he is more a fan of Rafael Nadal.

“Djokovic is looking for his place and he can’t find it,” the 82-year-old told Serbia’s Kurir daily.

“He is like [Boris] Becker, like a child who plays with fire and puts his hand up to see if it burns or not. Djokovic is a great athlete, a very good tennis player, but to be a great champion, it’s Nadal!”

He added: “In my opinion, Nadal is, not in tennis, but in sports, a genius who stayed with both feet on the ground, who behaves the same as when he was 15.”