A former tennis star and close friend of Novak Djokovic has given a "fascinating" insight into the World No.1's anger management issues.
Daniela Hantuchova offered her take on the Serbian star's US Open disqualification that has been the talk of the tennis world this week.
'HEALTH IS A PRIORITY': Ash Barty drops fresh bombshell
'DISGUSTING': Novak Djokovic scandal takes 'shameful' twist
The Slovakian former World No.5 is good friends with Djokovic and his wife Jelena, and is also very tight with the Serb's coach Marian Vajda, who is also Slovakian.
However, that relationship with Team Djokovic didn't stop the 37-year-old from offering a frank assessment of the 17-time grand slam champions’s actions during the now infamous line judge incident.
Speaking on Amazon Prime UK’s broadcast of the New York grand slam, Hantuchova suggested Djokovic's explosion was a long time coming because he has problems dealing with anger resolution.
“It feels like sometimes the anger comes out of control,” Hantuchova said.
“I care so much about him and respect everything he is doing for our game, but I just hope there is a lesson to be learned, even if this one came at the worst possible time, where pretty much the only thing standing between him and an 18th grand slam title was himself, with all my respect to the other players.”
Hantuchova also criticised Djokovic about his roles in the ill-fated Adria Tour and formation of the breakaway tennis body, during a period of global uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
“So many times he has the right intentions, it’s just with the timing he’s not getting it right, like the Adria Tour,” Hantuchova said.
“There’s no problem with running an exhibition tour like that, just not when the whole world stops. Same with the ATP stuff. Sure things need to change, but not right now.”
The brutally honest assessment left Hantuchova's peers stunned, with fellow Amazon broadcaster Catherine Whitaker praising the honesty of Djokovic's close friend.
“When she reeled it all off for me I was so taken aback because, as you say she does have a relationship with Novak Djokovic. She’s very close to his coach Marian Vajda, he’s a fellow Slovakian, and she has a relationship also with Novak Djokovic’s wife Jelena,” Whitaker said on The Tennis Podcast.
“She thinks a lot of them and understands them (Djokovic’s family and friends).
Hantuchova pulls no punches
“She understands every bit of that (his upbringing) and the significance of it in his psyche, potentially.
“But having said all of that, she was pulling no punches with regards to how she saw the incident. She said this has been a very long time coming and she said he has an anger problem and he needs to seek some sort of anger management help.
“She said it’s entirely normal for tennis players to have difficulty controlling their emotions and holding back feelings of anger on a tennis court.
“She said Roger Federer had that … he was a total hot-head until he was 18, 19, maybe even a little bit older and he recognised that was not viable if he wanted to be everything that he could be.
“She had absolutely no clemency at all for his failure to front up afterwards. She said that’s cowardice, that’s the opposite of leadership and he should be ashamed of himself.”
BBC commentator David Law said while Hantuchova’s remarks might seem harsh on Djokovic, they come from a place of love.
“It really made me think about things in a slightly different way, particularly Daniela Hantuchova,” Law told The Tennis Podcast.
“I found her contributions just really fascinating, I think partly because I know she knows Novak Djokovic pretty well and certainly is very well known to Marian Vajda — they get on well, don’t they.
“I found Daniela’s view on all of that really something to behold and I wasn’t expecting it either.
“I feel like it’s those kinds of conversations that Novak Djokovic would love to take to heart, really, because she’s certainly not out to get him, not in any way. She wants what’s best for him, I’m sure of that.”