Tennis great defends Novak Djokovic as he shuts down ‘divisive and insincere’ claims

Ewan West
Novak Djokovic delighted
Novak Djokovic of Serbia during his match

Tennis legend Paul McNamee has refuted suggestions Novak Djokovic is “divisive and insincere” and argued these labels only come from people who do not know the Serbian. 

The former doubles world No 1 declared Djokovic is “highly respected and popular” and regarded as “the man” by his peers in the locker room.

Speaking exclusively to Tennis365, respected tennis broadcaster Marcus Buckland recently discussed the adulation Djokovic has received in his career compared to his great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

“You don’t often appreciate the greats of sport until they have gone, but I suspect Novak will always be fighting for that,” Buckland began.

“There is great admiration for him, there already is and that will only grow as the years go by.

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic ‘could never win’ popularity battle with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

“Where he is unlucky is he spent most of his career up against the two most popular tennis players of all-time.

“Novak has got an incredible amount of supporters and they are passionate, there is no doubt about that.

“But Federer, I always remember at the 02 Arena in London for the ATP Finals and all of his sessions were sold out as people didn’t want to miss the chance to see him.

“Nadal has basically garnered the same sort of admiration and love from his supporters and unfortunately for Novak, he has come through at a time when he was up against two remarkable individuals and that was always going to be challenging for him.

“For that reason, he might not quite get the admiration he deserves.”

In a post shared on X / Twitter, McNamee weighed in with his take on Djokovic’s popularity and pointed to the way the tennis icon is perceived by his fellow players.

“Djokovic is variously described as divisive and insincere. Of course, that’s from people who don’t know him,” wrote the Australian.

“If you want the reality, ask the locker room. That’s where he is the MAN… highly respected and popular. So perhaps check with his peers?”

Djokovic suffered a shock 2-6, 3-6 defeat to Alejandro Tabilo in the third round of the Italian Open on Sunday — continuing his underwhelming 2024 season to date.

The 24-time Grand Slam champion holds a 12-5 record this year and is yet to reach a final, with his best results his semi-final appearances at the Australian Open and in Monte Carlo.

The world No 1, who will turn 37 later this month, will next compete at the French Open, where he is the defending champion.

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic’s longest trophyless start to a season: Will he break his own record?