Gilles Simon, the French tennis star, has criticised the ‘media game’ that surrounds Novak Djokovic and the unfair treatment the Serbian world No. 1 gets as compared to Swiss great Roger Federer.
Djokovic had been caught in the eye of a storm when a cluster of coronavirus cases came from his Adria World Tour, a series of tennis tournaments that was held across cities in the Balkan peninsula. The tournament had scarce social distancing norms and had to be cancelled halfway through its second leg in Croatia when a number of players, including Djokovic himself, tested positive for coronavirus.
“I tell myself that Novak is trying to tackle complicated issues in the interest of the players in general,” Simon told L’Equipe.
“And I was bothered by this story of the Adria Tour because, by making a huge mistake, all this work fell apart. It’s a ‘media game’ that wants that. After the errors with Adria Tour, all his work is reduced. It is easy to say: ‘Never listen to him again!’ now for the media.”
He said that by comparison, Federer has been relatively silent on issues surrounding lower-ranked players being unable to make a living from tennis.
“I knew Roger would step up to the plate when there were discussions on the prize money of the Grand Slams a while ago,” he said. “But the impression I have is that we lost him on the way, that the representation of the players does not matter to him. If there is a voice that carries, it is his.
“I see Djokovic like any human being, with his strengths and flaws. But with Roger Federer, we only talk about his strengths. With Novak, only about his flaws. It would annoy everyone if Djokovic breaks Federer’s records. It angers people that he (Djokovic) is so strong.
“It can also be seen in the crowd, on the court, in the Australian Open final. The anger against Novak is a huge mistake. Much of the public doesn’t consider him as important as Roger or Rafa Nadal.”