Many in Serbia unhappy with Djokovic-Ivanizevic partnership

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic with coach Goran Ivanizevic during practice at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon, London. (Reuters)
Updated 04 July 2019

Many in Serbia unhappy with Djokovic-Ivanizevic partnership

  • Serbia’s state-controlled tabloids called it a scandalous partnership between the top-ranked Serb and the former Wimbledon champion from Croatia
  • Djokovic, whose mother was born in Croatia, had faced similar public criticism when he said he would support Croatia after Serbia exited last year’s soccer World Cup at the group stage

BELGRADE, Serbia: Novak Djokovic is again under scrutiny in his native Serbia — this time because of inviting Goran Ivanizevic to join his coaching team at Wimbledon.
Serbia’s state-controlled tabloids called it a “scandalous” partnership between the top-ranked Serb and the former Wimbledon champion from Croatia.
Croatia fought a bloody war for independence from Serb-led Yugoslavia in the 1990s and nationalist sentiments still run high in both countries.
“Goran comes from Croatia, I’m from Serbia. We both come from the country that was once called Yugoslavia,” Djokovic said, explaining his decision to recruit Ivanizevic. “When I was small and started watching tennis, I watched his match against (Pete) Sampras. Everyone in the region supported him (Ivanizevic).”
Djokovic, whose mother was born in Croatia, had faced similar public criticism when he said he would support Croatia after Serbia exited last year’s soccer World Cup at the group stage. Croatia went on to the final where it lost against France.
Pro-government Belgrade tabloid Informer quoted former NBA center Darko Milicic as saying that Djokovic’s move to hire Ivanizevic is “an insult to his fans.”
Milicic said that whenever Djokovic “displays outbursts of love for Croats” he should think of his Serbian fans “who have gone through harassment, expulsions and loss of their loved ones during the war.”
The tabloids printed an interview Ivanizevic had with the New York Times during the war in which he was quoted as saying he wished “to have some Serbs standing in front of me” while he had shooting practice with a machine gun.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, a former ultranationalist, took a softer line: “It is good for our country that Novak Djokovic has good relations with Ivanizevic so that the past clashes are overcome.”
Ivanizevic, who won the men’s singles title in 2001, has told Serbian media he received “a rather unexpected call” from Djokovic ahead of the grass court tournament.
“It’s all unusual,” Ivanizevic said, adding he was trying to postpone some obligations that may force him to leave Wimbledon in the second week.


First desert polo tournament kicks off in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla as part of Winter at Tantora

Updated 17 January 2020

First desert polo tournament kicks off in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla as part of Winter at Tantora

ALULA, Saudi Arabia: The first ever AlUla desert polo championship launched on Thursday with the two-day tournament kicking off during the second season of the Winter at Tantora Festival.
The event is organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and in cooperation with the Saudi Polo Federation.
A group of the most prominent international polo players will be competing in the tournament including the founder of the La Dolfina Polo Team, 10-goal handicapped, Adolfo Cambiaso. Other notable players include David Stirling, Pablo Mac Donough, and Argentinian Nacho Figueras.
For his part, Chief Executive Officer at RCU, Amr Al-Madani, said: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia seeks to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of AlUla while promoting its unique landscape. A city that is rich with anthropological findings, historical anecdotes, and a depth of civilization.”
He added: “Hosting the Desert Polo Tournament during the Winter at Tantora Festival provides a global platform which will help define the value of a city rooted in the core of history. It is also a tribute to the regions great equestrian tradition and a big contribution toward achieving the goals of Vision 2030.”

Amr Hussein Zidan, the President of the Saudi Polo Federation, also commented: “AlUla Desert Polo is not only a new concept; it is also the first official tournament organized by the Saudi Polo Federation. The organization was established in July 2018 as a means to develop the sport in the Kingdom, implement international best practices and help enthusiasts compete at elite levels of the competition.”
AlUla is a perfect setting to launch the Desert Polo Tournament as it is characterized by its unique location and its great historical and cultural significance to the Kingdom and the world. The exceptional site of the city and its charming nature provides links to ancient civilizations and paints an accurate picture of past life, memories, and the stories of the long-gone dwellers of the old city.


The Desert Polo Tournament is one of the major events taking place during the Winter at Tantora Festival. Over the course of 12 weeks, the festival will present a variety of activities that merge eastern and western culture embodying AlUla’s heritage as a meeting point for difference civilizations from around the world throughout history.
Winter at Tantora Festival offers a wide range of diverse experiences that cater to all tastes from all walks of life. The festival will take place every weekend starting 19th December 2019, and running until the 7th of March 2020. Guests this year will also have the unique opportunity to visit the historical heritage sites before they close to the public until October 2020. They will also be able to attend musical and artistic performances by some of the most respected artists in the Arab, and international, world.
The AlUla Desert Polo Championship is sponsored by Amaala, Bentley and Richard Mille.
For more information, and to book your spot during the various festival activities, please visit the festival website here.