Things Can Never Be The Same

Transformational times compel tennis to commit to a major makeover, says Novak Djokovic.

The Coronavirus pandemic is a wake-up call to the world—and the world No. 1 asserts tennis’ governing bodies must revise the calendar to adapt to the COVID-19 climate and prevent potential sink holes in the schedule.

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“Transformational period, yes, absolutely, because things can never be the same, not from a point of view of tennis or tournaments or whatever,” Djokovic told the media after his Western & Southern Open opening-win over Ricardas Berankis. “I think even if we talk about the tennis season and everything, I think even that has to be rearranged.

“I hear a lot of people from the other governing bodies in sport talking about maybe just like really taking the calendar and understanding what can be done so we could prevent maybe, I don’t know, big holes in the calendar in the future or just how to make it better. It brings everybody closer to each other, and we all try to be united and work together towards a greater goal, in tennis but also in private life.”

Djokovic came under criticism from media, fans and some fellow players for his Adria Tour, which featured little social distancing or masking and some players dancing shirtless in a Belgrade night club. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki were among the Adria Tour participants who subsequently tested positive for Coronavirus.

Now recovered, Djokovic said unity, family time and an opportunity to step off the tennis treadmll and reflect on life were among the silver linings in the COVID-19 cloud.

“I think whatever is happening right now in the world is, for super majority of the people on this planet, you can’t really influence that but you can influence your reaction to that,” Djokovic said. “And I think on a brighter side, this whole virus situation the last six months brought us closer to our families. It made us tennis players slow down, because we live such a fast-paced life, constantly on the road, traveling, living in a suitcase, and really not addressing anything else but the tennis life so much, you know, because it’s so demanding. It’s the longest season of all sports, 11 months a year.”

The 17-time Grand Slam champion said the pause in play reinforced his belief health is true wealth.

“But I felt that this period was very needed, and it made me reflect on my life,” Djokovic said. “It made me understand that some greater things than myself, like, you know, the health of and well-being of not just human beings but the planet itself.

“I mean, the great thing about six months of people not really commuting so much is that the planet is cleaning, and we are polluting it so much, so that’s a great thing.”

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

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