Tennis

Novak Djokovic warned over ‘fatal mistake’ in brutal putdown after Rafael Nadal comparison

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Novak Djokovic has been told he made a “fatal mistake” by failing to get vaccinated as the Serb was slammed by former pro Ion Tiriac, who told the 20-time Major champion he would never be like Rafael Nadal or John McEnroe. The world No 3 has already been forced out of several tournaments this year due to his unvaccinated status.

Djokovic found himself on the receiving end of a brutal putdown at the hands of former pro and Madrid Open owner Tiriac. The Romanian warned the world No 3 that his failure to get vaccinated had also cost him his reputation as well as several tournaments, as he was deported from Melbourne on the eve of the Australian Open at the start of the season, causing controversy and losing him 2,000 ranking points.

“I think that Djokovic has made a fatal mistake, fatal with the issue of the vaccine. Fatal,” Tiriac told claytenis. “Because of his image and all that, a shame, because he is a sensational player.” The 35-year-old was also told that he could not be a “personality” in tennis because he lacked “charisma” as the former player-turned-businessman continued to rip into the Serb.

He continued: “He wants to be a personality, but he does not have the charisma of Nastase, of McEnroe. So it’s a little more difficult.” Despite his scathing assessment of the 87-time title winner’s personality, the 83-year-old still admired Djokovic’s ability as a player though thought Nadal was superior.

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“Without a doubt he’s a great player and a hard worker. But he’s not Nadal,” he added, throwing in one last dig towards the Serb. His comments came after he claimed the Spaniard was better that Djokovic and Roger Federer.

“Rafael Nadal is the best of all. Neither Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are up to him,” Tiriac claimed. Nadal currently leads the Grand Slam race, having pulled further ahead of his rivals at the recent French Open.

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The Big Three were all tied on 20 Majors each following Djokovic’s Wimbleon win 11 months ago and the world No 3 reached the US Open final last year though lost to Daniil Medvedev, failing to win a record 21st Grand Slam.

Instead it was Nadal who reached 21 in Australia this year in the absence of defending champion Djokovic, and the 36-year-old extended his record with a 22nd Major title at the French Open earlier this month – his 14th title in Paris.

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