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Beyond the Baseline

Djokovic hasn't purchased all the donkey cheese ... yet

It turns out the biggest viral tennis story of the last two weeks was a bit premature.

British newspapers reported last week that Novak Djokovic had bought the entire supply of the world's most expensive cheese, a Serbian delicacy made from donkey milk called pule, for his restaurants. Several mainstream outlets (including this one and the ATP's own website) picked up the story, which exploded quickly.

Now, though, The New York Times reports that the story isn't true. Djokovic has not purchased any donkey cheese, which is made at a small reserve in Zasavica, about 50 miles west of Belgrade. The Times' Diner Journal blog reports that the manager of Djokovic's restaurant in Belgrade was given a sample of the cheese and was offered an exclusive on the product. That's it.

Responding to a series of e-mail questions about pule, Jovan Vukadinovic, a manager at Zasavica, concluded with a rather deflating piece of information. “Novak Djokovic never bought our cheese,” he wrote.

After the initial reports about Djokovic's supposed purchase, The Times says, one British paper traveled to Serbia for a follow-up story.

The Daily Mail, hot on the trail of pule, sent a reporter named Robert Hardman to Serbia for a tasting. When he discovered that the Djokovic story was shaky, he buried the bad news deep in the story and swathed it in a few layers of obfuscation, suggesting that Mr. Simic [Slobodan Simic, the farm’s donkey breeder] is now “waiting to clinch the deal.” The waiting seems more likely than the clinching.

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