What's going on with Novak Djokovic?

The tennis world has often asked itself this question.

First in the early years of his professional career, when the Serb kept complaining about minor aches and pains in tricky game situations and took medical breaks, just to continue playing like a young tennis god right afterwards.

Or in the current phase, in which Djokovic persistently refuses a corona vaccination and prefers not to take part in major tournaments like recently in the United States.

Thomas Klemm

sports editor.

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Since last weekend, the world number one has been giving up the latest puzzles.

In the semi-finals of his home tournament in Belgrade, the 34-year-old lost the decisive third set against Andrei Rublev, believe it or not, 6-0.

Djokovic said his fatigue was probably related to an illness he had gone through weeks earlier.

It is said not to have been a corona infection, but "something that affects me, my body, my metabolism".

What might that be?

As is so often the case, Djokovic remains vague when it comes to his condition.

Competitors used to question whether the Serb really had complaints or whether he was pretending to be.

Djokovic is now considered one of the fittest players on the tennis tour, so his severe bout of fatigue came as a surprise.

Especially since he has hardly played this year.

At the highlights of the clay court season, next week at the Masters tournament in Madrid and from May 22nd in Roland Garros, Djokovic wants to have overcome his phase of weakness and achieve great things again.

In the best case, his 21st Grand Slam tournament victory, with which he would catch up with the record holder and Parisian clay court king Rafael Nadal.

"Paris remains my big goal," said Djokovic, although his season so far has been surprisingly bad: in Dubai and Monte Carlo, where he was allowed to play as an unvaccinated person, he failed early on.

And the fact that he collapsed in Belgrade seems like a throwback to times long since forgotten.

Which brings us to a book that tries to trace Djokovic's career from the Serbian kid, who received tennis lessons in 1999 in the break between the NATO air raids, to the record world number one in all ups and downs.

"Novak Djokovic.

A lifetime in war” is its title.

Anyone who knows little about Djokovic will learn a lot about his irrepressible motivation, his life and his various sponsors.

The fact that the Serb pursues his profession with the mentality of a warrior has been written so often that it has become a phrase.

Strange war metaphor

Otherwise, the biography gives little that goes beyond previous knowledge.

That Djokovic is unpopular with most fans because he disrupted the noble duel between "Maestro" Federer and "Rafa" Nadal for years, because he roars on the pitch and tends to martial poses and because he is in some respects as Lateral thinker appears - everything is known and already described in a shorter form.

Just maybe not as sensational as Daniel Müksch says in his book: "Novak Djokovic is an intruder.

He has gained access to an exclusive circle.

Not with bitcoin, knife or explosive belt.

But with his 645 square centimeter tennis racket.” Djokovic is waging “a very personal war,” it continues.

So much war metaphor is always tricky, in times like these it reads particularly strange.

But the tone is set.

Müksch describes Djokovic's tennis life very effectively, but not very profoundly.

What was hardly to be expected otherwise, he couldn't speak to Djokovic and his team, but mostly evaluated generally available sources.

The recourse to older publications leads to the strange disproportion that half of the book goes by until Djokovic's first Grand Slam title in Australia in 2008 - the great years of success are dealt with in the second half.

In addition, some chapters - especially the denied entry to Australia at the beginning of the year - were obviously written hastily.

This is indicated by cryptic sentences and an incorrect time difference between Melbourne and Belgrade.

A lack of closeness would be manageable if a clear attitude of the biographer to the person portrayed was recognizable.

The following questions should have been clarified analytically: Is the dislike of many fans towards Djokovic understandable?

Is it maybe not only because of his appearance, but also because of his style of play?

How can it be explained that the Serb attaches great importance to fair and friendly gestures, but still offends and angers many?

But sentences like "He draws his will and strength from aggressiveness against an opponent he wants to defeat" or "Limits don't exist for him" are more whispers than interpretations.

Especially since the author himself describes how Djokovic keeps reaching his limits: be it when choosing his coaches such as Andre Agassi, Boris Becker or most recently Marian Vajda, from whom he recently separated after many years.

Or be it physical limits.

Djokovic admitted after leaving Belgrade that his recovery was taking longer than he expected.

Doesn't sound like war without borders.