“Boris Johnson is crazy, Rublev and Medvedev just want to play tennis.” [ESCLUSIVA]

Shortly before the start of the semi-finals in Serbian Open in Belgrade director Ubaldo Scanagatta intercepted Nikola “Niki” Pilicformer Yugoslav tennis player who became famous for Wimbledon boycott in 1973. Basically, due to Pilić’s lack of participation in the Davis Cup, he was excluded first from the Yugoslav team and then from the Wimbledon tournament. Many of his tennis player friends (81!) decided to boycott the tournament, both to support his situation and, above all, to aspire to obtain more voice in the newly formed ATP.

Niki Pilić spoke exclusively to our microphones about this, but also more: “Djokovic spent almost five years in my academy and invited me here (Pilić was the first Serbian coach, ed.). I am very happy to be here and see how it is played today., certainly much faster than in our time. So today my wife is also here: I’ve known her since 1959 and we’ve always been together.”.

Pilić has won the Davis Cup since captain of three different teams. The Davis Cup was the trigger for the 1973 Wimbledon boycott, born for one of his problem with the Yugoslav federation: “It all started because of my problem, but that was a situation that was not only of Niki Pilić’s concern, but of the ATP and the international tennis federation. In the same week, the doubles master and the Davis Cup match between Yugoslavia and New Zealand were played in Zagreb. He had to play the Masters, but I couldn’t play the Davis Cup with Yugoslavia even though he had played it for 12 years: he was excluded. Four hours before the final against Nastase I received a telegram saying that I couldn’t play Wimbledon. Thus, many others decided not to participate and, after the boycott, things are finally on the right trackwhere they really should have been for some time.”

A similar problem, curiously always with the protagonist of Wimbledon, concerns the age-old question ofexclusion from the championships of Russian and Belarusian tennis players. A political choice, obviously dictated by the tragic Russian-Ukrainian situation: Boris Johnson is crazy! Rublev and Medvedev have nothing to do with Putin, they just want to play tennis as everyone. Politics has gone too far in sports and I think this situation may be very similar to ’73. In that sense, someone could say: “if these tennis players don’t play, neither do we!” And at that point, I’d be curious to see what Wimbledon’s reaction would be.”

finally one Djokovic’s consideration and his decision not to get vaccinated: “Novak is a great player. Right now I can’t say if he’s number one, three, eleven or seventeen, but he’s definitely a special player. I saw a component in him that I had never seen in other players in my life, and I have been alongside Boris Becker, Michael Stich or Goran Ivanišević. Novak, however, had something more than the others. He always had a physical form that allowed him to stay six hours in the camp without getting tired: this is incredible. As for the vaccine, it has a very strong character: if it wants to do something (or does not want to in this case), it is difficult to move it from its post. He always said that he did not want to be vaccinated., this is his character and his idea. For me, however, it is a pity, nobody could have known that the Covid would arrive. In any case, what happened in Australia is something I don’t want to see again with any player: it is not possible that a tennis player who has won the Australian Open nine times will not play.

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