He had just conquered the Dubai ATP 500. The joy was evident, the happiness of conquering another title. So much so that, jokingly, Djokovic said yes, that ending the season unbeaten it was one of his goals. Suddenly the gesture changed. He hinted that no, it was not a joke.
11 weeks later, that moment seems, in the distance, one of those premonitory dreams in which for many the only wish is to wake up, while for Serbian fans it is to stay in it until the 2020 season writes its end. The only reality that concerns us is that all this is close to being fulfilled, but far from the clues. A consolation that becomes a punishment if we consider that Novak sees how his loot as number one remains as frozen as the action on the tracks.
Thirty-third birthday of the “jackal” is fulfilled between doubts, involved in issues that have nothing to do with tennis. Social networks have passed sentence and their Instagram directives with disturbing personalities make headlines and news. His position on vaccines was also subjected to more visceral scrutiny, in search of the headline and the distancing from the grays that hid their words. And yes, I really do not agree with what he said or what he can lavish on Instagram.
But when it comes to tennis, all doubts are cleared. The scales tip towards the more humane Djokovic, that person who is trying to make a difference that he can’t make on the track. It had been a long, long time since a player of his status had shown any real interest, with offers yet to come to fruition, in aspects that many are far from. Djokovic has his life solved, without the need to get into muddles of equity and redistribution of wealth with the great ocean liners of this sport. And yet it has.
His initiative, the Players Aid Fund, has finally allowed those who suffer in the tennis jungle to feel valued, to notice that bit of solidarity from the greatest. This does not mean that the Dominic Thiem or Matteo Berrettini, critical positions to their implementation, should be subjected to the same impassive critical eye that judges without going into detail, that critical eye that has always looked at Novak closely, rather than at the two legends he tries to reach and overcome. The players themselves, like Carlos GomezThey admit that initiatives like this are, above all, a moral envy of solidarity that make them feel like tennis players.
At 33, Novak has reached the height of maturity. To his mental zenith. In these months we are seeing a Djokovic committed to his beliefs, open in his thoughts, even when that is playing tricks on him. Does not receive praise from others, does not receive applause and public support like when Federer and Nadal suggest a union between ATP and WTA.
But it’s okay. It never mattered. Narratives are sometimes controlled. If Novak has shown birthday after birthday is that he does not seek excellence or perfection, although sometimes his remote-controlled blows go against him. You see, in 1892 a certain Nikola Tesla invented an apparatus that allowed the transmission of electrical energy without the need for cables. It was never seen before. But of course, that wireless transmission, the Tesla Transformer Coil, contradicted the economic interests of the time, since it avoided any cost to the consumer.
The electricity wizard, the good guy from Nikola, didn’t get the credit he deserved. His project was scrapped. He never had the patents he would have needed to get rich, but that was not what he was looking for. Comparison with Nicholas Tesla, a person who Nole deeply admires, could never be so successful. You already know that energy is neither created nor destroyed, just becomes. That principle Tesla tried defines perfectly Djokovic. His tennis and character have been continuously transformed to become the best of all time.
To this day, it continues to do so. Transform your serve and it is so successful that it even allows him to win Grand Slams (see Australia 2020). He transformed his diet to be a competitive machine. He transformed his mind to look Federer and Nadal in the face. It has transformed the foundations of tennis, has forced the epics that speak of Federer and Nadal to include him as well, and maybe one day it will end transforming statistics that allow you to be the best. The transformation is in his personal DNA, a torrent of energy that was often overflowing before and has long flowed vigorously only through his racket.
In these months, Djokovic is the visible face of a small transformation for tennis. One that has a little more note to those below. When the action returns on the tracks, I have no doubt that Novak will continue to transform, like that energy that Tesla treated differently. Because being different from the best two, it is unique. And yes, sometimes it’s okay to remember that you are a leader and ambassador for our sport.
Happy 33, Novak.