Patrick Mouratoglou divides fans after defending Novak Djokovic following comments from ex-Nike tennis boss

Novak Djokovic with Wimbledon trophy

Former Nike tennis director Mike Nakajima’s comments about Novak Djokovic have not gone down well with Patrick Mouratoglou with the esteemed coach saying “I personally prefer a real human being with his qualities than a perfect untrue image of perfection”.

The debate started following the release of extracts from the book “The Roger Federer Effect”, which is co-authored by Simon Cambers and Simon Graf.

Nakajima was the man in charge of Nike’s tennis division when Federer signed and in the book he talked about the Swiss great’s marketability while he also discussed the decision to allow Federer to join Japanese giant Uniqlo.

Asked about Djokovic – who has had long-term partnerships with Lacoste and Asics – and why he never joined Nike, he replied: “He could well be the most successful tennis player ever. But there’s always a dark cloud around him. It’s like he brings it upon himself. He hits the lineswoman at the US Open (in 2020) and gets disqualified? It happens, I guess.

“But why does it always happen to Novak? Or the whole controversy about the Covid-19 vaccination. Now, as a brand: do I want to be behind somebody who always has controversy around him? Or do I want to go with an athlete with a squeaky clean image?”

The remarks were not well received by Mouratoglou, who was tennis great Serena Williams’ long-time coach before they parted ways in 2022, as he jumped to the defence of Djokovic on Twitter.

The Frenchman wrote: “To answer Nakashima [sic] about Nike and Novak: Whether we agree or not, like or dislike Novak, I personally prefer a real human being with his qualities, his beliefs and his flows [sic] than a perfect untrue image of perfection. Sanctifying perfection is denying our condition as humans.”

Of course tennis fans were always going to have different opinions about the subject and one asked Mouratoglou: “So, you don’t think a real human being can be genuinely nice and have good principles?

“Accepting deceit and bad behavior as standard human flaws is lowering standards for our kids and the kids you coach.

“Do you tell kids at your academy to behave as Roger & Rafa or as Joker?”

Mouratoglou, though, wants children to be themselves, saying: “I tell them to be themselves. This is the best value. Not trying to be someone else.”

He added: “Being a good person doesn’t mean being perfect. Values are essential as drivers to our lives. On the other hand, we also have to accept our imperfections. We are humans not gods.”

Others were happy that he is sticking up for Djokovic.

“I commend your bravery and authenticity in saying this Patrick, which surely questions the lack of objectivity by certain commercial interests, and the mainstream narrative 👏,” one wrote.

READ MORE: Allowing Roger Federer to quit Nike ‘an atrocity’ as former Nike tennis boss