Novak Djokovic has been called a villain by Australian tennis analyst Sam Groth but he feels Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have needed the Serbian to elevate their legacy to the next level.
Djokovic has never been one to receive the warmest of receptions from supporters, especially when he takes on Federer or Nadal.
The Serbian’s controversial antics, such as partying in the middle of a pandemic, often land him in hot water.
However, nobody can deny the world No 1’s incredible talent on the court and he could win the 18th Grand Slam title of his career when he takes on Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final tomorrow.
Djokovic has been battling on with an injury for the majority of the fortnight, although he has kept the severity a secret.
Rumours began to circle that the 33-year-old was faking it and Groth explained why the speculation came to light.
“People don’t question the severity of your injury for no reason,” he said.
“Djokovic has a reputation for being the boy who cried wolf. Federer and Nadal needed a bad guy, and they got Djokovic.
“Novak Djokovic tries to give an impression he doesn’t care about not being liked, but I’m not convinced that’s true.
“He will never attract the universal support they (Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal) do.
“Every era needs a villain. And he’s become just that. On the court, Djokovic is nothing short of incredible.
“He’s on another level, the guy you never want in your draw. But off the court, he has done himself no favours.”
Djokovic could be set for a spell on the sidelines after the Australian Open but he has one more opponent standing in his way of glory.
Medvedev has been in brutal form as he hunts his first Grand Slam title, dismissing Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in the semi-finals.
“Daniil Medvedev, as I said previously, is the player to beat,” Djokovic explained. “He’s on a big winning streak. He ended out the season best possible fashion.
“I mean, winning quite comfortably, actually, against top players, against myself in straight sets in London, and he just has improved a lot.
“I mean, he has a big serve. For a tall guy, he moves extremely well.
“Forehand maybe was his weaker shot, but he has improved that, as well. Backhand is as good as it gets. He’s so solid.
“He doesn’t give you much. But he’s not afraid nowadays to attack and get to the net and take it to his opponents.
“He’s just so solid. Also, I heard Jim Courier calling him a master chess player because of the way he tactically positions himself on the court, and it’s true.”