Novak Djokovic, a tennis player at the service of mysticism

NOTovak Djokovic would probably have done without such a chaotic start to the year. Initially authorized to travel to Australia to defend his chances at the first grand slam tournament of the season, the Serb is still in uncertainty. On Monday, a judge revoked the cancellation of his visa by the Australian authorities and ordered his release from the detention center for migrants in which the star had been placed on his arrival in the country without vaccination against Covid-19. But will he be able to play this Australian Open in Melbourne? The health imbroglio about his vaccination against Covid became diplomatic. The greatest dignitaries of his country have stepped up to the plate and the subject has become extremely sensitive between Canberra and Belgrade. It must be said that in Serbia, the current world number one in the ATP ranking is considered a living legend, almost untouchable.

Nikola is one of his strongest supporters. Of Serbian origin, he explains to us why Djokovic is essential in his country: “He is a bit like the son of the nation here. It is unanimous, all the politicians are fighting for it. He recently spoke about a demonstration of farmers, the president had to listen to him on this subject. He knows where he comes from, he has built more schools, hospitals and roads than the government in the last ten years. »

Pepe Imaz, the “coach” who changed everything

This unanimous affection is not shared by all fans of the little yellow ball. Long considered the ugly duckling behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Djokovic is still not considered at his fair value. Henri Leconte had also tried to explain on Eurosport this difference in perception between the three giants of world tennis. “I know Novak well, he’s a lovely guy, kind to everyone. But he has a personality and a physical posture that can make you believe, unfortunately, that he is haughty. »

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The Serb thus took refuge in spirituality and positive thoughts to find some comfort there. Moreover, in his entourage, a personality calls out. This is Pepe Imaz, a former professional player who now runs a tennis school in Marbella. Its slogan is simple: “love and peace”. Guru for some, simple mental trainer for others, the Spaniard has in any case followed the world number one in recent years, in order to help him channel himself. “Novak has been working on him for many years, on his person, on the inside, understanding that when you are better on the inside, everything he does, he does it with more harmony, he improved. This is how he took steps and made his way, ”explained Pepe Imaz to Eurosport a year ago, after the coronation of his protege at the Australian Open.

For his part, Djokovic had refuted the idea that this mysterious coach was a guru. “I don’t know where you heard that. People say what they want, some media try to find stories… He’s been around me for several years, he worked with my brother. He’s been in tennis all his life, I’m proud he’s with me. This rather special working relationship is less important today, however. The influence of Pepe Imaz would have diminished in the mind of Djokovic, who nevertheless retained some of his principles: well-being, a healthy and strict diet (gluten-free), but also emotional balance. Can we link this spirituality to religion? He has previously expressed his pride in being an Orthodox Christian, having been awarded the Order of St. Sava in 2011, the Serbian Orthodox Church’s highest honor. However, the winner of 20 Grand Slam titles has detached himself over the years from the main principles of this religion to have his own devotion.

A never-ending quest for affection

Is this appeased Djokovic authentic? His most loyal supporters like Nikola have always had doubts about it. “I was very critical of that, which can be considered sectarian aberrations. This great phase of Djokovic in care bear mode still rhymes with the worst period of his career on the courts. When he moved away from Pepe Imaz, he completely rediscovered this hatred of defeat, we see him again on the court getting annoyed and breaking rackets. »

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Less eccentric than in its beginnings, where he did not hesitate to imitate the other players circuit to amuse the gallery, “Nole” has become more introverted about his emotions. There are still moments of cracking that have marked the spirits. At the US Open 2020, a gesture of humor earned him an exclusion from the tournament, after hitting a judge with a ball. In the next edition, he burst into tears after the cheers of the public who finally recognized his value, just as he lost in the final against Daniil Medvedev, synonymous with failure in his quest for a grand slam. While he had finally obtained the coveted affection of the public, Novak Djokovic finds himself again under the fire of criticism. It remains to be seen whether this spirituality will help him to recover.

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Novak Djokovic, a tennis player at the service of mysticism

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