Serena Williams’ ex-coach talks about Novak Djokovic’s chances at the Australian Open because of emotional baggage
Nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic will have a much harder time in the 2023 edition, according to former Serena Williams coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
The 52-year-old coach, who guided Williams to their sixth and seventh Australian Open titles and is currently coaching rising star Holger Rune, said Djokovic’s “emotional baggage” from the deportation drama was difficult to manage.
The 35-year-old superstar Serb was expelled in January last year and forced to miss the tournament after intervention by the Australian government, which said the fact he was unvaccinated and a prominent “anti-vaccination” meant he was at risk could represent to the community.
Novak Djokovic waves to the crowd after winning his first match of the Adelaide International on Tuesday
It was a nearly two-week saga that saw Djokovic spend time in an immigration prison in Melbourne, which refugees at the time described as a “torture prison”.
Mouratoglou said the experience was bound to scratch some of the 21-time Grand Slam champion’s mental scars as he tries to justify his $2.50 (TAB.com.au) fondness for the title.
Former Serena Williams coach (left), Patrick Mouratoglou (right), who guided the US superstar to two Australian Open titles, says if Djokovic is to win Down Under this year he will need to overcome some difficult mental demons
“It’s going to be tough for Novak in Australia, that’s for sure,” he told Eurosport.
“He’s going to carry a lot of emotional baggage. He’s been through so much emotionally. No one is immune…it’s going to be tough.’
For his part, Djokovic, who is currently in South Australia for the Adelaide International, fondly recalls all the good times he’s had in Australia since winning the Open for the first time in 2008.
Novak Djokovic is taken away from an immigration detention center in Melbourne in January 2022 after his visa was cancelled
The unvaccinated Djokovic arrived in Australia and was deported after a nearly two-week saga for endangering the public’s health and safety, the government said
“What happened to me 12 months ago was not easy for me, my family or my team… You cannot forget those events. I’ve never experienced anything like it and hopefully never again,” he told reporters upon arriving in Australia last week.
“It was disappointing to leave the country like this but I was really hoping to get permission to play in Australia.
“It’s a country where I’ve had tremendous support. I’ve always played my best tennis here.
“Melbourne is close to my heart. What happened was not easy for me to digest but I had to keep going and these circumstances will not replace what I experienced in Melbourne and Australia.
“So I’m coming in with positive emotions,” Djokovic said ahead of a training session in Adelaide.
While Mouratoglou conceded that overcoming last year’s traumatic experiences and having to miss subsequent tournaments due to his vaccination status would be easier said than done, he said there were certainly some elements of the preparation in Djokovic’s favour.
“It’s the pre-season, it’s the off-season and there’s no competitive stress. So he (Djokovic) will be emotionally rested, which is good,” he said.
“And then he doesn’t start directly at the Australian Open, so he has time to get used to the atmosphere there.”
Novak Djokovic celebrates after taking on Constant Lestienne in comfort on Tuesday at Adelaide International
Djokovic appeared calm, relaxed and focused in Adelaide as he sped past Constant Lestienne 6-3, 6-2 in his first singles match of the tournament.
He and best pal Vasek Pospisil went down in doubles in the tiebreak but it was clear the Serb got exactly what he needed from the encounter.
There have been concerns he may not have been well received by the public following last year’s vaccination drama, but his reception in Adelaide has proved those worries have been misguided so far.
Scores of fans lined up just to catch a glimpse of the superstar, lovingly chanting his name and holding up signs, and Djokovic – as usual – has been incredibly accommodating of all manner of fan requests, selfies and autographs.
Novak Djokovic was a hit with fans in Adelaide and was seen taking photo after photo with star-studded fans of all ages
Kids and adults alike hung over the stands at the Memorial Drive Tennis Center to get an autograph from the Serbian star
Djokovic happily accommodated the mountain of fan requests, proving that fears of how he would be received in Australia were misguided, at least in South Australia
As he builds up to the Open’s January 16 start date, those waters will be tested in the city where the deportation drama took place.
Thankfully, there seems little hint of animosity toward the nine-time champion and affable prankster who’s always been a fan favorite.
If Djokovic manages to justify his overwhelming preference for betting and clinches the title, he will draw level with Rafael Nadal, a member of the “Big Three” for the most men’s singles Grand Slam titles in history: 22
He will next take to the court on Thursday, where he will face France’s Quentin Halys in the round of 16 at the Memorial Drive Tennis Center in the shadow of the Adelaide Oval.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/tennis/article-11597149/Serena-Williams-ex-coach-talks-Novak-Djokovics-Australian-Open-chances-emotional-baggage.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Serena Williams’ ex-coach talks about Novak Djokovic’s chances at the Australian Open because of emotional baggage