Why is Djokovic not as popular as other greats?

Follow tennis closely and you’ll know that Djokovic isn’t the most loved player on tour. Whenever he competes against Nadal or Federer, he is clearly never the crowd favourite. But why is this the case? After all, the guy is arguably the greatest player of all time. He is a spectacular player, a mental warrior, and I truly believe he will end up winning the most slams ever. This then begs the question, what is it about Novak Djokovic that rubs people the wrong way? 


I’ve given my thoughts on this delicate question below.

Djokovic – three ingredients that aren’t helping him

Before I dive into these ingredients, I’d like to state that the ingredients listed aren’t actually negative traits. In fact, I believe that the details given here have been essential for his success throughout his career. But regardless, they are still the main reasons as to why fans haven’t quite warmed to him as much as other players. Here they are:

He challenged Nadal and Federer

For me, this is the biggest reason why he hasn’t gained the same love as these greats. Before Djokovic started to win major events back in 2008, it was always Nadal and Federer scooping up the big tournaments. They were both iconic and lovable players back then and still are today. And I believe that fans gained significant admiration for both players for their personality, skill, and indeed for their rivalry. But when Djokovic came along, fans weren’t ready for a rivalry involving all three. 

Djokovic also didn’t work the media quite as well as those guys back in the day. But that doesn’t hold much bearing on his current perception today.

He rises to adversity

By nature, since he isn’t loved all over the world, he has to deal with adversity wherever he goes. He has been booed by fans, jeered at numerous events, and he has had to deal with complete crowd bias in many major matches. The best example of this would be his US Open final against Roger Federer in 2015. The entire crowd was cheering Federer apart from the Djokovic camp, yet he overcame this to win the match. 

Again, I don’t believe that fans like that he can rise above such overwhelming odds and still emerge victorious. He is not afraid to step up and let the crowd know that he is winning despite their efforts either, which naturally, doesn’t go down well.

His passion on the court

Being passionate on the court isn’t a bad thing, but fans don’t see it this way with Novak Djokovic. Certain outbursts have left a bit of a sour taste in the mouths of spectators. Examples involve his recent outburst after beating Berrettini at the 2021 French Open, against Fritz at the 2021 Aussie Open, and numerous outbursts at the 2021 Us Open. But he clearly needs these outbursts to play his best tennis and overcome the adversity mentioned above. So for me, this isn’t really a bad thing. In fact, it’s a great thing for his overall success.

About the author

Gavin Davison

Gavin is a full-time copywriter based in the United Kingdom. He has previously played NCAA college tennis in the USA and competed in many international events throughout his younger days. He still plays competitively and follows both the ATP & WTA Tours closely. His favourite player is Roger Federer.

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