Djokovic

‘We Created a Monster’: Djokovic Makes Australian History in the Country That Deported Him

30 January 2023

2.8 MINS

Djokovic’s historic Australian Open win is a reminder that principles matter more than victory, and that adversity can be the best medicine.

Last night Novak Djokovic made Australian history, winning his 10th Australian Open title at an electric Rod Laver Arena, defeating up-and-coming Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in straight sets (6-3, 7-6, 7-6).

The win, which Djokovic called “the biggest victory” of his life, puts him on equal footing with Rafael Nadal’s 22 Grand Slam men’s single titles and returns him to the world number one spot.

It was an emotional night for the 35-year-old Serbian, who fought a hamstring injury throughout the Open and then saw his father miss last night’s final due to an off-court controversy late last week. On winning, Novak clambered up into the stands with his family and team, where he sobbed uncontrollably for several minutes before the awards ceremony commenced.

Australia has proven to be a centre of gravity for Djokovic, who won his first Australian Open in 2008, and two decades ago launched his professional career at the same tournament.

An Icon of Free Choice

“This has been one of the most challenging tournaments that I’ve played in my life,” Djokovic told crowds during his Churchill-esque victory speech last night. “Given the circumstances, not playing last year… I want to thank everyone who made me come back and made me welcome.”

It was Djokovic’s subtle reference to the humiliating saga he endured last year, when Australian authorities kicked him out of the country for his personal stance on mandated COVID-19 injections.

Critics and the legacy press variously blamed Djokovic’s deportation on his vaccine-free status and visa application errors. However, as reported by the Daily Declaration, Australian Government representatives made it clear their decision to deport the tennis star was to prevent “an increase in anti-vaccination sentiment” and to keep “an icon of free choice” out of the country.

Ironically, then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed that barring Djokovic from entering Australia somehow protected the country, even as the virus was spreading uncontrolled among the ‘vaccinated’ along Australia’s east coast.

‘We Created a Monster’

Australian Nick Kyrgios, who faced Djokovic in last year’s Wimbledon final, believes the Serb’s deportation only fuelled his desire to take home this summer’s Aussie title. “Haha I told you,” Kyrgios tweeted after Novak’s win. “We created a monster. Well done @DjokerNole.”

Kyrgios was a vocal critic of Australia’s treatment of Djokovic last year. “For the sport, we need him here,” he said at the time. “I just want it to end. I’m feeling for him now, it’s not really humane what’s going on.”

Kyrgios then predicted a principled Novak would channel any feelings of vengeance towards his opponents on court. “He’s going to be very determined to play well and stick it to everyone [because] of what’s going on,” Kyrgios remarked — also warning, “If he’s allowed to play the Australian Open, I don’t want any bar of him.”

‘I Became the Villain of the World’

In spite of how he was treated, Djokovic — who is an Orthodox Christian — has guarded his heart from bitterness. “I don’t hold any grudges. Definitely not against the people of Australia,” he said earlier this month. “I think me being here proves how much I really want to be here and how much I want to play, and how much I like it.”

Nor has Djokovic shied away from discussing what he endured. “All of a sudden, I became the villain of the world which was obviously a terrible position to be in as an athlete and someone who is looking to thrive in its own direction of life and profession,” he said earlier this month. “But that’s something that I had to learn how to handle.”

Novak invested his time off court in further developing the skills that helped him secure his weekend win in Melbourne. “The fact that I wasn’t playing for several months at the beginning of last year allowed me to really get together with my team and work on my body, on my strokes.”

Djokovic’s historic win is a reminder that, even when big sacrifices are required, principles matter more than victory — and victory is still possible in the long run, anyway.

Image via Eurosport.

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7 Comments

  1. Kaylene Emery 30 January 2023 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    Stunning piece Kurt. I am so not, a sport person but this is much needed good news – not to mention inspiring.
    It lifts the name of Jesus in our exhausted world.

  2. Jasmine Potts 30 January 2023 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    Great article Kurt. It is a thoughtful and well put together piece as usual. We were cheering so loud for him last night when he won!!! What an amazing guy to be big enough to rise above the disgusting treatment he has endured, not let it define him, hold his head up high and come back and win! I don’t know many people who have that kind of character.

  3. Warwick Marsh 31 January 2023 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Fantastic Kurt and much needed. The grace and forgiveness to those who wrongfully deported him was astounding in the ego driven world of Sport!

  4. Leonie Robson 31 January 2023 at 10:20 am - Reply

    Kurt I cried with Novak.
    We thanked God for his victory.
    our middle son was a young professional tennis player. We’ve seen and lived the politics of the sport and Tennis Australia.
    They are now more political than ever, being swept up willingly in the rivers of Woke.
    Victoria itself is a prime location for this to flourish, don’t we know.
    With the incredibly high numbers of elite athletes suffering from heart problems, many having lead to death, Novak’s choice has been self vindicating.
    Side bar, we watched the singing of the National Anthem Sunday night, and the camera panned to our PM.
    His expression was not proud or joyful at all.
    Our Australian flag has been relegated to a position to the side of the Aboriginal flag. We always knew that the Labor Government would orchestrate changes that we didn’t want, and though symbolic to some, their choices are very planned.

    Yay Novak!

  5. H Harrison 31 January 2023 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Exonerated! Thanks for the article Kurt. It seems too the crowd mostly agreed with you.

  6. Pearl Miller 1 February 2023 at 8:45 am - Reply

    Hallelujah! Gods justice prevails…..my heart goes out to all the sportsman who have taken the lethal jab as the spike proteins in their body continue to multiply…. Lord have mercy. God bless Novak, what he has done to set a standard for his fellow sportsman by standing his ground in the face of the great humiliation of being deported is of more value than a trophy.

  7. Abigail Jack 1 February 2023 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    I have been a fan of Novak pretty much since 2008, so to see him comeback and be world number one again honestly is wonderful to see. I really did not expect it to be so soon if ever.

    I think it is safe to say that this is what justice looks like, even if it is only in the realm of sport.

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