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Novak Djokovic joins All-Star Match at Ryder Cup
Djokovic paired up with celebrities for the featured exhibition ahead of this weekend's clash between the U.S. and Europe in Rome.
Published Sep 27, 2023
Novak Djokovic's grass-court tennis prowess is well-documented, as the Serb boasts seven Wimbledon singles crowns, but how's his grass-course game?
Fans found out firsthand on Wednesday as he featured at the celebrity All-Star Match ahead of golf's annual Ryder Cup.
Djokovic joined soccer greats Gareth Bale and Andriy Shevchenko, Formula One driver Carlos Sainz, actress Kathryn Newton and other stars for the exhibition event that kicks off golf's annual showdown between the U.S. and Europe (and the inspiration for tennis' recently-completed Laver Cup) with his playing partner Kipp Popert, who is No. 1 in the world in the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD).
Djokovic called the opportunity to play the event at Rome'sMarco Simone Golf and Country Club "an honor" and a "once-in-a-lifetime experience."
Ever the comedian, Djokovic kept fans laughing by taking some fake cuts to traditional cheers of "Ole!" before teeing off at the first hole, and even had tennis racquets inside his golf bag. Djokovic and Popert played on the team captained by legendary Scottish golfer Colin Montgomerie, which also featured Bale, which eventually won against a team captained by former world No. 2 American Corey Pavin.
"When I got an invite, I was like, 'Oh my God, I gotta accept this,'" Djokovic told Golf Channel afterwards. "I increased the amount of golf I played in the last six months, especially in the last 10 days.
"I was like, 'I gotta be prepared, I cannot embarrass myself, or even worse, I cannot hit somebody in the head!' ... It was such a thrill."
(While he didn't hit anybody in the end, Djokovic did come out on the losing end of a battle with some overgrown fescue.)
Currently taking a few weeks off from playing after winning a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the US Open, Djokovic said he planned on staying in Rome through Friday to see the Ryder Cup's famed opening tee-off.
"I heard the atmosphere is electric," he added. "Everyone is talking about the noise, the incredible vibe that you get to see in the first tee-off ... so I'm going to be there for that and just enjoy fantastic golf."
Days after winning in New York, Djokovic helped Serbia secure a berth in the Davis Cup Finals Final 8 in Malaga in November by playing in the group stage in Valencia, but he also announced that he'll be skipping the ATP's tour through China and won't be playing in the Shanghai Masters, which begins on Oct. 4.