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"We are all human, we all have flaws": Djokovic empathises with Tomic

Tennis

Novak Djokovic empathises with Bernard Tomic's plight but also understands a major sponsor's decision to cut ties with the troubled Australian.

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Racquet manufacturer Head released a statement hours after Tomic was fined $US15,000 that it couldn’t condone the 24-year-old’s behaviour after he said he was “a little bit bored” during his first-round Wimbledon loss and no longer cared how he performed at the grand slams.

“We were extremely disappointed with the statements made at Wimbledon by one of our sponsored athletes, Bernard Tomic,” it said in a statement.

“His opinions no way reflect our own attitude for tennis, our passion, professionalism and respect for the game.

“Therefore we have decided to discontinue our collaboration with Bernard Tomic.”

The company remained loyal to Maria Sharapova during the Russian superstar’s 15-month ban for doping and Djokovic – who also uses Head racquets – was asked if it was fair that a player could be penalised for speaking truthfully at a press conference.

“That’s a good point,” the Serbian world No.4 said.

“From a human side, we all have that empathy and we all have that compassion, so it’s just a matter of whether you allow it to surface, whether you try to understand the person or not.

“So it just really depends on you. I generally try to understand people and why they take certain actions or words and we all are humans.

“We all have our flaws. We all, in the heat of the moment, maybe say some things that are not appropriate maybe, by definition of someone, or something.

“But again, it’s understandable, in a way, why Head has reacted in this way because it’s not the right message to send out there from one of the most talented players that has played a game in last six, seven years, and someone that was a hero – he is a hero – to many children, especially in Australia.

“Everybody looking up to him and him making these comments, I understand that perspective.”

Djokovic, who has trained with Tomic in Monte Carlo where they both have bases, also appreciates the Australian’s struggles, having endured his own over the past year in which he has relinquished all four of the grand slam trophies he possessed.

“Because I’m on the tour, I play tennis, I understand the ups and downs that you experience as a player, understand the emotions that you go through, and it’s not easy. It’s not easy,” said the 12-time grand slam champion.

“There are tougher things in life. Absolutely. We have to be very grateful for the kind of lifestyle we have and to be given an opportunity to play a sport that we love.

“For him, it’s different now. He’s going through a tough stage and you have to kind of understand it and support it.”

Djokovic brushed aside claims from John McEnroe that his own recent struggles are a result of the same off-field dramas that wrecked Tigers Woods’ career.

This time last year the Serbian superstar held all four grand slam singles trophies – the first man since Australian great Rod Laver in 1969 to do so.

He now holds none – and before last year’s US Open admitted that personal problems had surfaced in his life.

“The person that comes to mind immediately with Novak is golfer Tiger Woods,” McEnroe told the BBC.

“He had the issues with his wife, he seemed to go completely off the rails and has never been even close to the same player.

“That’s going to throw you. If you’re distracted, you’re not the same player.”

But Djokovic laughed off McEnroe’s comments and joked the American icon may have been offended because he hit him with a ball while warming up for his first-round match on Tuesday.

“John has a complete right to say – anybody, really, in the world has a right to say what they want, and I respect that right,” the three-time Wimbledon champion said after easing into the third round overnight.

“Especially coming from John, because he’s someone that has earned that right because of who he is and what he has meant to the sport.

“He’s very well known for his bold comments and not really caring too much about being politically correct but saying whatever is on his mind.

“I really don’t take it in a negative way. It’s fine. He has his right to say the things he wants to say.

“I don’t necessarily need to agree with that. But it’s his right. I take it very lightly.”

Djokovic’s three-set second-round win wasn’t completely plain sailing.

The world No.4 was given a time violation by the umpire on the third point of the match and exchanged words with a member of the crowd following a comment made to him after the incident.

“I just don’t like when somebody comes to the stands with intention to just provoke and just say certain things that are not right,” Djokovic said.

“I just feel that’s not appropriate. It’s not in the spirit of the sport.”

Djokovic will next face Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis, who upset Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4 6-4 7-6 (7-3).

-AAP 

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