Novak Djokovic hits out at Syria strike plans


Novak Djokovic, the world’s top tennis player who grew up in Belgrade as NATO  air strikes blasted the Serbian capital in 1999, hit out Sunday at US plans to  take military action against Syria.

Serb star Djokovic as well as former women’s No.1 Ana Ivanovic both vividly  recall sheltering from the attacks that were launched against the rule of Serb  hardman leader Slobodan Milosevic.

Djokovic, 26, said that any attack against Syria would be ill-advised and  counter-productive.

“I’m totally against any kind of weapon, any kind of air strike, missile  attack. I’m totally against anything that is destructive because I had this  personal experience, I know it cannot bring any good to anybody,” said  Djokovic.

“Those particular times that me and my fellow countrymen and colleagues from  Serbia have been through is a period of life that we don’t wish anybody to  experience. The war is the worst thing in life for humanity. Nobody really  wins.”

Djokovic was only 12 when NATO unleashed its firestorm, although his sporting  talents allowed him to eventually quit Serbia for Germany to enroll in a tennis  academy.

“It made us stronger, those two and a half months. We looked at it on the  bright side. We were kids. We were only 12 years old.

thought, OK, now we’re not obliged to go to school, we can play more tennis,”  he said.

“So we spent the whole day basically every day for two months on the tennis  courts with the planes flying over our heads. After a week or two of the  bombings, we just kind of moved on with our lives.

“We did everything we could and what we wanted. We just let life decide for  us.”

World number one Djokovic, a six-time Grand Slam title winner, added: “It was  not in our control. We were helpless basically. Luckily we all survived, and we take this kind of experience and this particular  situation from our past as a great lesson in life.”

Ivanovic, a former women’s number one and past French Open champion, has  often recalled the 78-day bombing campaign that forced her and her friends to  play tennis in a derelict swimming pool.

“The pool was old, leaking and too expensive to heat, so they emptied it, put  carpet inside and made two tennis courts,” she said.

“It was impossible to play crosscourt. We had to keep playing down the  lines.”

During the crisis, flights in and out of Belgrade were suspended as she and  her parents had to make a seven-hour car journey to Hungary in order to fly to  international tournaments.