Novak Djokovic is in the spotlight off the court too.
Novak Djokovic is in the spotlight off the court too.

Djokovic fiercely confronts reporter

NOVAK Djokovic has had  a stunning exchange with a journalist, accusing the reporter of verbally attacking him in the aftermath of his latest Wimbledon win.

After defeating Denis Kudla in straight sets on Centre Court, Djokovic spent the first few minutes of his press conference reflecting on his career, before the interview turned confrontational.

At the centre of the tense to-and-fro was Justin Gimelstob, the former star who stood from the board of the ATP Player Council, of which Djokovic is president, after earlier this year pleading "no contest" to assault charges.

He fronted court accused of beating a former friend while the alleged victim's wife witnessed the attack.

The judge in charge of Gimelstob's case warned him that by choosing not to contest the charges, he was not allowed to offer any public denials of his guilt over what was described as a "violent and unprovoked" attack.

Djokovic is close with Gimelstob, and revealed earlier in the week the pair caught up in London ahead of Wimbledon.

The Serbian has also defended Gimelstob's role in promoting the best interests of players while on the Player Council.

Djokovic's alliance with Gimelstob prompted a journalist - who was visibly emotional during his questioning - to ask how the world No.1 could possibly advocate for Gimelstob's return to tennis. The moderator tried to interject several times but on each occasion Djokovic insisted on finishing the discussion.

The full transcript of the exchange can be found below.

Reporter: Please allow me to say how much I admire you as a tennis champion and a wonderful person off the court.

Novak Djokovic: Thank you.

R: My question relates to Justin, who I've known and admired for two decades. As we all know, he has many wonderful qualities. I'll try and express myself clearly. I'm wondering whether you've read the victim impact comments that were made by the person who he attacked and his wife. If you have read that, how can one possibly consider this man who had this brutal attack in front of children, there were other incidents that have been reported as well, for leadership in our wonderful sport?

Djokovic: Is he proven guilty?

R: He said "no contest", and the judge stated to him, "Because of that, you will be considered guilty. Do you understand, Mr. Gimelstob?" He told her yes. He also told a number of us that it would all come out and he would prove himself innocent, and he has not done that. The report is devastating. My question is, as our leader, have you read it and will you read it?

Djokovic: I will read it. I haven't read it. I've spoken to Justin. He has explained to me that he still is going through the process, the legal process. He's not done yet in the courts. Obviously I know only his side of the story. I've had, as I mentioned before, a really good relationship with Justin. I think he is away from our sport at the moment for a reason. I think he needs to take time to deal with this serious matter.

We as a sport, players, cannot have this kind of disturbance, so to say, in our sport or in our structure. He understands that. If he in the end of this whole process is proven guilty, I mean, obviously there is no support from my side for him to be part of the sport.

R: In a court of law, he agreed that he would be adjudicated, was said to be guilty. That is what occurs in California law when you say, "No contest".

Djokovic: OK.

R: You are accepting your guilt, and in this case to a horrific crime.

Djokovic: OK. Listen, I will go through the documents. I can speak to you next time.

R: I appreciate that.

Djokovic: There is no reason for you to attack me.

R: I'm not attacking you at all.

Djokovic: That's how I feel.

R: It's very emotional. You're our leader.

Djokovic: Just a second, listen. I understand that. I really do. I understand that. You were expecting me to be responsible for the Council and for the players because I represent them.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic takes a tumble. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Serbia's Novak Djokovic takes a tumble. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

R: I'm not talking about the council.

Djokovic: What are you talking about? I want to finish this.

R: I'm talking about your comment, "I haven't thought about whether Justin should come back and be a part of the Council, of our leadership". That's what I'm referring to.

Djokovic: You're referring to the Council leadership. That's what I was talking about.

R: To Justin coming back to being a Council member, yes.

Djokovic: Let's take things slowly here. That's what I was referring to. That's what I was saying. I just don't feel it is necessary for you to point a finger at me specifically for something that he has or hasn't done. I told you that I'm going to go back and I'm going to read all the papers, then we can have a discussion after that. That's all. There is no reason for you to talk to me in that way because I feel like you're pointing the guilt at me for some reason for what he has done or for supporting him.

I am telling you I have a very good relationship with him, and I always have. I'm not going to lie about that. But if he is guilty about committing a crime, as you said, or whatever has happened that night, that obviously changes things around for his future role in our sport.

But if that is not the case, then I'm just saying, if that is not the case, then he is a huge asset for our sport and our players. He has always been. He's been representing players very vocally for 10 years. You have mentioned that at the beginning, right?

R: I know. He has great skills.

Djokovic: That's all. That's all.

R: I'm not accusing you of any crime.

Djokovic: I know you're not accusing me of a crime. I feel like you're putting me on the spot because of what he has done or that I have not been taking enough action as a leader. That is what you are referring to.

R: Because of what you have said. Because you haven't looked into a very serious situation.

Djokovic: I will.

R: Thank you.

Djokovic: Thank you.

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