Djokovic’s “Norwegian” friend: – I do not understand why people do not like him

– Like that, eager Nenad Trifunovic shouts over Oslo Tennis Club.

Behind him, the Serb has a long professional career as a tennis coach. He now lives in Norway and trains promising talents from the Oslo area.

– Scandinavia has changed me: Just look at my hair! Before I had short machine cuts around the whole head, but now I have a long hair, says the coach original and laughs.

– A few weeks ago, he brought some t-shirts from Novak Djokovic’s fitness center, and you can clearly see that he is a professional trainer, says Margrete Berg who is part of the Serb’s training group.

COACHING TOGETHER: Former Iver Olai B. Innseth, Filip Stajic (coach), Noah Hjorteland, Henrik Aamann, Nenad Trifunovic, Henrik Bergh and Margrete Berg. Photo: Erik Monrad-Hansen / TV 2

Known Djokovic since childhood

It is through having trained former world trolls and Davis Cup winner Viktor Troicki that Trifunovic has become acquainted with Djokovic.

In addition, he trained Djokovic’s wife, Jelena Dokić, from the age of six to nine.

WON DAVIS CUP TOGETHER: Novak Djokovic (left) and Viktor Troicki in 2010 when they won the Davis Cup at home in Belgrade.  Photo: Darko Vojinovic

WON DAVIS CUP TOGETHER: Novak Djokovic (left) and Viktor Troicki in 2010 when they won the Davis Cup at home in Belgrade. Photo: Darko Vojinovic

– I have known Novak since he was nine years old, says Trifunovic and says:

– When Novak was nine years old, he met Viktor (Troicki), whom I trained, in a match. Viktor crushed him, and after that Djokovic became so angry that he wanted to stop playing tennis – as many children can become at a young age.

In addition, he has become well acquainted with Djokovic’s family, as Troicki and Djokovic have been together a lot in both young and adult age.

17 YEARS: Troicki (left) and Trifunovic (right) spent many years together on the ATP tour.  Photo: Private

17 YEARS: Troicki (left) and Trifunovic (right) spent many years together on the ATP tour. Photo: Private

Takes Djokovic in defense

From a sporting point of view, there is no doubt that Djokovic, who turned 35 on Monday, is one of the greatest players in tennis history. 20 Grand Slam titles and 370 weeks as world leaders speak for themselves.

Nevertheless, the man from Belgrade has had to endure a lot of criticism from both the press and fans.

– He is not always so popular among people, and I do not know why, says Trifunovic.

Most recently in January, Djokovic was in the critics’ spotlight when he was finally sent out of Australia because he had not taken the coronary vaccine. The case ended in court.

– I do not understand why people do not like him. I know he gave 25,000 dollars to Australia when it burned there, and now he also gives a lot of money to Ukraine. His contributions have helped many people, so to me it is strange that so many do not like him.

TAKES TIME: - Every summer Djokovic is home for a two-week training period at his fitness center in Belgrade, and then he always finds time to talk to the children, take selfies and give gifts, says Trifunovic to TV 2. Photo: Alessandra Tarantino

TAKES TIME: – Every summer Djokovic is home for a two-week training period at his fitness center in Belgrade, and then he always finds time to talk to the children, take selfies and give gifts, says Trifunovic to TV 2. Photo: Alessandra Tarantino

Do you think Djokovic will win, but …

This week, this year’s second Grand Slam, Roland Garros, is in full swing.

Djokovic is the favorite to win the generous tournament, and moved on Monday from the first round after winning in straight sets against Yoshihito Nishioka. But Trifunovic fears a specific player may stop his Serbian friend:

– We have got a fabulous opponent from Spain. Carlos Alacaraz I think is the next big thing in tennis. He plays extremely well during the day and has a backhard I have never seen before.

NEW GRUS KING?  19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz has made his definitive breakthrough this season.  Now expectations are being raised in Roland Garros.  Photo: ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT

NEW GRUS KING? 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz has made his definitive breakthrough this season. Now expectations are being raised in Roland Garros. Photo: ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT

Norwegian Casper Ruud is also in the tournament, and has had a real dream draw.

The setup means that the Norwegian does not have to meet several of the biggest stars such as Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev before a possible final.

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