Jelena Djokovic has hit out at critics of her husband Novak after a video of his support team preparing courtside supplements was viewed more than 15 million times on Twitter.
The video, posted by columnist for the Spectator magazine Damian Reilly, shows Ulises Badio filling up a bottle in the stands, hidden from sight, before handing it to one of the ball kids, who subsequently delivers it Djokovic.
The 21-time grand slam champion was in the middle of a battle with Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Paris Masters, whom he beat, but he was subsequently downed in the final by teenager Holger Rune, who secured his first Masters 1000 title with a 3-6 6-3 7-5 victory.
However, it was the actions of Djokovic’s team rather than his own play that dominated social media, as the video was shared more than 13,000 times, prompting the player’s wife to jump to his defence.
“I don’t see anything dodgy,” she wrote on Twitter. “In fact, I see people trying to be private about their business in a world where everyone feels like they have every right to point camera at you whenever they want.
“Apparently, wanting/trying to be private makes you dodgy nowadays.”
Djokovic was asked about his drinks and supplements at Wimbledon this year, insisting all he could say was that it was “a magic potion”.
He added: “You’ll find out soon, but I can’t speak about it now. You’ll find out soon.”
Ms Djokovic also wrote this week: “He will talk when he is ready to talk. This whole nonsense about making people speak about something they are not ready because OTHERS are unpatient is absurd.
“Sit a bit in silence. Mind yourself more. Not everything you see is controversial. It could be private. Is that allowed?”
Djokovic’s team did not respond to i‘s request for comment.
Djokovic’s competitiveness shines through
The first thing to say is that this kind of thing happens all the time. Tennis matches are long and unpredictably so, just as energy levels are, meaning players can need different types of nutrition at different times.
It’s true of all athletes but tennis players are particularly meticulous: British No 1 Cam Norrie takes his own scales on tour with him so he knows exactly how much moisture he loses in each training session and match, and Andy Murray has a target for how much of each drink he takes on court he has to drink every hour.
Djokovic revolutionised the sport of tennis with his approach to fitness and flexibility, and is known for his innovative and often highly unusual methods: one of his closest friends is Chervin Jafarieh, a self-styled health expert who hosts a podcast called Wake The Fake Up and runs a wellness brand called Cymbiotika that sells products like “Liquid Gold” which claims “to not only promote healing in the body of specific deficiencies but also have the positive effect of helping activate full cellular potential”.
It is likely – and in fact Djokovic himself has said as much – that he will come out with his own line of supplements and wellness products, but the secrecy demonstrated in the video is not commercial, it is competitive. Like Formula One bosses who try to stop photographers snapping their latest piece of tech, Djokovic and his team do not want to give his rivals even the slightest inkling of what he is up to.
He even used to eat his preferred on-court snack – dates – under a towel. Once the cat got out of the bag, everyone was requesting dates to keep them going during long matches.