Forgive us if you’ve heard this before, but “a report from Serbia” has emerged involving Novak Djokovic.
The world No. 1 of course suffered an unexpected semi-final loss to Jannik Sinner at the Australian Open, the first time he had ever lost in a semi or final at Melbourne Park.
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Just as Djokovic supposedly carried a 3cm tear in his hamstring through his Australian Open triumph in 2023, this year he had a wrist injury and then a mystery illness across the year’s opening grand slam.
During the Serbian’s third-round win over Tomas Etcheverry, a member of the crowd yelled out “get vaccinated, mate” on match point before Djokovic was asked about his illness in the press conference that night.
“It’s kind of a regular viral infection that I’ve been through,” he said. “Now it’s in its last stages. I still have some secrete coming out. That’s all it is.”
Djokovic then thrashed Adrian Mannarino and battled past Taylor Fritz to reach the final four, where he was outplayed by an inspired Sinner, who would go on to win his first grand slam title.
Djokovic was unable to carve out a single break point opportunity on the Italian’s serve, eventually succumbing 6-1 6-2 6-7 6-3, in a match where the top seed failed to demonstrate any of his usual fire or frustration towards his box or the crowd.
Now, a report from Serbia attributed to a journalist called Luka Nikolic, which was posted on social media on a Djokovic fan site, claims to have the answers to his poor play.
“Novak got a fever the night before the semi-final,” the report states. “Something similar to what (Alexander) Zverev had.
“He was sick for three weeks and then he had a relapse. That’s why he played so badly in the first two sets, you could see he was so weak and couldn’t do it.
“He couldn’t play well in those conditions. He didn’t want to go to the doctor so the journalists wouldn’t bother him and make a fuss.”
We were able to find a journalist called Luka Nikolic, which is a fairly common name in Serbia and Slovenia, with an MMA fighter, a tennis player and a basketball player all found online with the same name.
The Nikolic credited with this report is said to be a technical editor of Meridian Sport Global and previously worked with B92 and Sputnik News.
In terms of the Zverev reference, the German complained about a lack of energy and a fever that impacted him after his quarter-final win over Carlos Alcaraz and during his five-set semi-final loss to Daniil Medvedev.
A number of fans have responded to the report on X, formerly Twitter, which was posted by an account called @DjokovicFan, which posts in English and almost exclusively about the 24-time grand slam champion to its 7,800 followers.
“That’ll do it. We knew Novak wasn’t right from the first ball of that match. I’m not too distraught over the loss. We all know that he will be back and better than ever,” was one reply.
“Now it is more clear the situation, it was strange to see Novak dominated with many errors and never a break point,” wrote another.
“That (illness) was obvious,” added a third. “No emotional push from him and his entire team showed their low expectations.”
There were also plenty of comments that didn’t want to make excuses and preferred to credit Sinner for his victory.
One also posed this question.
“Should Sinner return the trophy to (tournament director Craig) Tiley or FedEx it to Serbia?”
We would be keen to see some verification of that original report, including from Djokovic himself.