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Novak Djokovic branded a ‘child’ in Boris Becker comparison as Rafael Nadal gets the nod

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NOVAK DJOKOVIC has been criticised and compared to a “child” while his Grand Slam rival was praised.

Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic has been likened to “a child” in the latest offensive against the Serb’s character. At the same time, rival Rafael Nadal was referred to as “a genius” who’s a child in a much different sense, having maintained the same passion and priorities that led him to the pinnacle of the sport.

World No. 2 Djokovic, 34, has seen his public profile plummet since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, with many deriding his decision to not receive the vaccine.

His image hit a new low after he was prevented from defending his Australian Open title in January, having travelled to Melbourne under the impression he had a medical exemption.

Long-time rival Nadal, 35, was among those to suggest Djokovic had brought any setbacks upon himself for refusing to get the jab, saying tournament organisers were clear in their mandate.

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And former world No. 8 Ion Tiriac has weighed in on the situation by comparing Djokovic to tennis great Boris Becker, who also had a reputation for controversy during a glittering career.

The president of the Romanian Tennis Federation hailed the 20-time Grand Slam-winner as a generational talent but suggested Nadal is the kind of example kids should follow.

“Djokovic is looking for his place and he can’t find it,” 82-year-old Tiriac told Serb daily Kurir.

“He is like Becker, like a child who plays with fire and puts his hand up to see if it burns or not. Djokovic is a great athlete, a very good tennis player, but to be a great champion, it’s Nadal!”

Becker, 54, has had his own share of controversies and was considered something of a playboy during his career, having excelled to win almost every major before his 25th birthday.

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The German also coached Djokovic for a time, serving as his head trainer from December 2013 until December 2016

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Despite being informed he may encounter difficulties entering future tournaments if he remains unvaccinated, Djokovic has doubled down in his stance to not receive the jab.

Tiriac may have considered it somewhat fitting that after Djokovic was denied his chance to become the most prolific Grand Slam-winner of all time in Melbourne, it was Nadal who took that honour.

Both that duo and Roger Federer entered 2022 level on 20 major titles apiece, but Nadal came back to beat Daniil Medvedev from two sets down and etch his name further in the history books with a 21st Slam.

It’s that kind of will to succeed that makes Nadal the superior champion according to billionaire businessman Tiriac, who values the Spaniard’s humility highly.

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“In my opinion, Nadal is, not in tennis, but in sports, a genius who stayed with both feet on the ground, who behaves the same as when he was 15,” the Romanian legend concluded

Nadal has long reigned as one of the most likeable figures in tennis, his positive outlook only enhanced further by his talent as one of the best to ever take to the court.

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Djokovic will hope to have his chance to prove who’s the greater champion as he eyes a title defence in May at the French Open, where Nadal has won a record 13 titles to date.

‘Nole’ is on the comeback trail aftger he recently suffered disappointment at the Dubai Tennis Championship, where he suffered a quarter-final exit to eventual runner-up Jiri Vesely