Kyrgios defends Djokovic after Wimbledon outburst, fans criticize crowd

Kyrgios defends Djokovic after Wimbledon outburst, fans criticize crowd

Nick Kyrgios has backed his close friend Novak Djokovic following the tennis star’s row with the Wimbledon crowd on Monday night.

Seven-time champion Djokovic, 37, opted to stray from the polished post-match interviews fans have grown accustomed to hearing following his fourth-round win over Holger Rune, aiming his spite at the Centre Court crowd. 

The Serb expressed his disappointment at what he felt were boos from pockets of the spectators, although it seemed the crowd were simply cheering ‘Ruuuuune’ for his opponent.

‘To all the fans that have had respect and stayed here tonight, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I appreciate it,’ he began. ‘And to all those people that have chosen to disrespect the player – in this case me – have a goooooooood night.’

His rather non-plussed BBC interviewer Rishi Persad said: ‘I am hoping they were just commenting on Rune, and they were not disrespecting you.’

Djokovic – who has a track record of taking on crowds – was having none of that. ‘They were. They were [disrespecting me],’ he insisted. ‘I am not accepting it. No no no. I know they were cheering for Rune but that’s an excuse to also boo.

‘Listen, I have been on the tour for more than 20 years. I know all the tricks. I focus on the respectful people that pay for the ticket, and love tennis and appreciate the players. I played in much more hostile environments, trust me – you guys can’t touch me.’ 

Nick Kyrgios – who is also known for his on-court meltdowns, told BBC Sport afterwards: ‘It wasn’t [booing] but I think crowds all around the world need to understand that Novak doesn’t need more of a motive to play better.

Nick Kyrgios has defended Novak Djokovic following his rant on Monday night

Djokovic took aim at the Centre Court crowd after his clash with Holger Rune

Djokovic took aim at the Centre Court crowd after his clash with Holger Rune

‘He’s driven, one of the best players in the world and I’ve seen it time and time again, the crowd try to poke the bear and that’s not what you want to do against Novak.

‘He loves it. I try not to poke the bear when I play him…and I really struggle with that. Obviously it cost me my Wimbledon final.

‘He doesn’t need more of a motive to go out there and prove to someone he is the greatest of all time.’

He later took to Twitter, now known as X, to defend his friend Djokovic. Responding to a fan suggesting the Serb’s rant was ‘influenced by Kyrgios’, the Australian said: ‘Maybe. I love it’. 

In his press conference later, Djokovic stood by what he had said.

‘When I feel a crowd is stepping over the line, I react,’ he said. ‘I don’t regret my words or actions on the court.’

He also tweeted a photo after the game of him stretching for a ball across the court, with the caption: ‘Sliding into quarters. Goooooooooooood night.’

And tennis fans have seemingly backed the Serb, labelling the SW19 crowd’s behaviour ‘despicable’. 

‘Parts of the crowd were despicable,’ one fan posted on X.

Another said: ‘Elite mindset. Would absolutely love to see him win this year.’

‘He’s entitled to say his truth,’ reasoned a third fan. ‘He has that right. And whoever gets offended, gets offended. He was not rude or vulgar.

‘In this case, he’s the one on the court with the first hand experience of two decades of hostility. Massive respect for being true to himself.’ 

A fourth fan added: ‘100% ok. He handled it like a champ – and why should a GOAT not bring it up?

‘On court interviews are full of very polished PR phrases – I appreciate some real talk much more.’ 

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