Townsville Bulletin

Just nine sets to rare feat


NOVAK Djokovic is an antivaxxer. One of those! He believes toxic food and polluted water can be cleansed by the power of gratitude.

He’s ideologica­lly opposed to surgery and says he cried for five days when he had to go under the surgeon’s knife to save his career.

He diagnosed himself as gluten intolerant by holding a piece of bread to his stomach and feeling a bit crook in the guts.

Now the kookiest and best tennis player in the world has ditched the madness and mayhem of Manhattan to bask in the serenity of an exclusive $50m private residence in New Jersey.

The property has a replica US Open court and allows him to do what he likes to do in times of stress: Talk to the trees (it’s unclear whether they have started booing him yet).

Tennis may not be your favourite sport and you may not think Djokovic’s style is particular­ly pleasing to the eye. But his matches from now on at Flushing Meadows will make for compelling viewing for the psychologi­cal battle he’s attempting to win.

He’s an Ice Man at the best of times but a Hothead at the worst, sometimes within a matter of points, and he’s trying to get his head around being so close to creating history as the first winner of the calendarye­ar grand slam since Australia’s Rod Laver in 1969.

He’s three matches from the most prestigiou­s feat in the sport. Just nine sets from one of the greatest accomplish­ments in world sport.

In the background is the fact a 21st major title will take him past Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the most successful male player in history.

The mental strain caused by the enormity of the stakes is his most dangerous opponent and so he’s reverted to one of the routines he always adopts at the Australian Open.

Every year in Melbourne, he goes to the Botanical Gardens to chat away to his favourite tree. When he wins the tournament, he goes back to his tree and climbs it. (Get a room).

“I love the Botanical Gardens and I love nature and I love to spend time daily there if I can,” Djokovic says of his Melbourne tree.

“I have a friend there, a Brazilian fig tree, that I like to climb and I like to connect with so that’s probably my favourite thing to do.

“Maybe that’s not as fun as you would expect but I’m not big into parties. Hopefully when I win … you will see me climbing a tree.”

Djokovic plays Italian Matteo Berrettini in the US Open quarter-finals about 11am Thursday (AEST) in a bid to make the semi-finals.

 ??  ?? Canada’s Leylah Fernandez during her win over Elina Svitolina. Picture: Getty Images
Canada’s Leylah Fernandez during her win over Elina Svitolina. Picture: Getty Images

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