LONDON (Reuters) – Novak Djokovic said on Thursday that he was puzzled by John McEnroe’s comments comparing the reasons for his slump in form to personal problems of the sort experienced by golfer Tiger Woods.
The Serbian player, a former world number one, said he did not know what McEnroe was basing his remarks on but added that he respected the former champion’s opinion.
McEnroe said this week that Djokovic “had some off-court issues with the family”, adding: “That’s going to throw you. If you’re distracted you’re not the same player.”
The three-time Wimbledon champion likened the problems of Djokovic — who has surrendered two grand slam titles this year and slipped to fourth in the world — to those of Woods, whose marriage collapsed after he admitted to adultery.
“The person that comes to mind immediately with Novak is golfer Tiger Woods,” McEnroe, 58, 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.”
Djokovic, whose wife Jelena is pregnant with their second child, was asked by journalists about the American’s comments after his Wimbledon second-round victory against Adam Pavlasek on Thursday.
He said he did not take the remarks personally.
“I really don’t take it in a negative way anyhow. 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,” the 30-year-old told a news conference. “I don’t know where was the basis, and he was just maybe making a comparison. I’m not really sure.”
“He’s very well known for his, you know, kind of bold comments and not really caring too much about being politically correct but saying whatever is on his mind,” Djokovic added.
“I always got along very well with John. You know, I guess whether that’s his opinion or criticism or something else, I’m not really sure. But in the end of the day, I respect everything he says.”
(Reporting by Pravin Char, editing by Neil Robinson)