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Former Opponent Reveals Djokovic Heart Of Gold In Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Somdev Devvarman played Novak Djokovic once on the ATP World Tour at Miami Open in 2013, a 62 64 loss in the round of 32. Yesterday they met again ten years later in far different circumstances – in a post match satellite interview after Djokovic beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 63 76 76 to win the 2023 Australian Open title. Devvarman, a former Olympian, Commonwealth Games gold medalist and former ATP top 100 player, now works as a tennis analyst for Sony Sports Network.

Devvarman’s interview spotlighted an aspect of Djokovic that the mainstream media tends to not emphasize.

Devvarman: All of us who are closely associated with the ATP Tour, we know you. We know the amount you’ve done. What you’ve done for PTPA for example. We know what you’ve done for your academy, helping out kids like the Sabanov brothers, like Hamad Medjedovic, like former players like Viktor Troicki or Ilja Bozoljac. Also there is a Novak Djokovic foundation that you and your wife Jelena have been running for many years. Whenever there’s floods in Serbia or somewhere in the world, Novak Djokovic is there. When there’s fires in Australia, Novak Djokovic is there. When Ukraine needs support and Stakhovsky reaches out for help, Novak Djokovic is there. When there’s a fundraiser, Novak Djokovic is there. And yet somehow, some part of the world, you know, we feel like you don’t get the credit that you deserve. But my question to you really Novak is, Why do you do all of this?

Novak Djokovic: “Well, I don’t think anybody has ever said so many wonderful things about me and what I’ve done Somdev, so I think you from the bottom of my heart my friend for mentioning these things. Look, you know, I don’t do them because I want publicity. I do them because I feel like I really want to help and I want to be there for people who are less fortunate. I’ve come from Serbia in the 90s, where we’ve been through two wars, embargo for six years. I think for four years not one Serbian athlete was allowed to go out from the country to compete in international competitions. And I was growing up in Serbia during that time, waiting in line for bread and milk every single morning at 5 am with hundreds of people and my grandfather so we could put the milk and bread on the table for a five or six family member family to eat that day. So I know how that feels like and the appreciation for everything that I have, that I’ve been blessed with, that has been given to me by life and by God is highly appreciated and more respected by me I think. And so I always have this awareness that there is so so many more people around the world that are much less fortunate. Through my foundation you mentioned, the tennis center in Serbia, Try to stay in tennis and sports in whichever way I can possible. I try to be there for people. I know I don’t do enough. I can always do more. But I do my best.”

Devvarman: Novak thanks man, you do more than enough. You do more than enough, you do more than anybody can. You don’t owe anybody anything. You’re a great champion, congratulations. This is an unbelievable effort. It’s a pleasure. Thank you for your time. I know you had a long, long day. Thank you for your thoughtful, intelligent answers.

Djokovic: “One of the best interviews ever, thank you Somdev, my friend, thank you.”

Devvarman: Thanks Novak (big smile and touching his heart).

Another previous encounter of Devvarman and Djokovic was at Indian Wells 2011 before Devvarman was supposed to play Rafael Nadal. Djokovic approached Devvarman to offer him some encouragement and advice on how to play Nadal. And Devvarman pulled off the upset, losing a tough battle 75 64. These very interesting insights are revealed by Devvarman on page 56 in my book Facing Novak Djokovic…

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  • Matt Segel · January 30, 2023 at 10:12 pm

    Thank you Scoop, I am tearing up reading this. Beautiful and humbling.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 31, 2023 at 7:34 am

    Matt, I felt the same way, what this champion has done over and over and over, and yet how the deep state abused and mistreated him last year was the worst injustice in sports history.



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