Novak Djokovic Calls out Wimbledon Crowd

Novak Djokovic Calls out Wimbledon Crowd

Novak Djokovic blasted the Wimbledon crowds last night after his straight-sets win over Holger Rune in a bizarre live TV interview that saw him furiously claim he was being booed by watching fans.

The 37-year-old had promised ‘fireworks’ in his fourth round against Holger Rune – but after the match itself failed to produce so much as a sparkler, he grabbed the microphone and aimed a Roman candle straight at the Centre Court crowd.

The seven-time champion turned his on-court interview into a rant about what he felt were boos directed at him during his straight-sets win on Monday evening, telling the audience: ‘I know all the tricks… you can’t touch me.’

It seemed the crowd were simply cheering ‘Ruuuuuuune’ for his opponent but Djokovic, as he often does, saw things differently.

‘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.’

Nonplussed BBC interviewer Rishi Persad replied: ‘I am hoping they were just commenting on Rune, and they were not disrespecting you.’

Novak Djokovic took aim at the Centre Court crowd on Monday, accusing them of disrespecting him

The seven-time champion turned his on-court interview into a rant about what he felt were boos directed at him

The seven-time champion turned his on-court interview into a rant about what he felt were boos directed at him

Novak Djokovic pretends to play the violin for his daughter as he celebrates winning against Denmark's Holger Rune

Novak Djokovic pretends to play the violin for his daughter as he celebrates winning against Denmark’s Holger Rune

The tennis star's wife Jelena Djokovic looked slightly uncomfortable as Djokovic took on the crowd

The tennis star’s wife Jelena Djokovic looked slightly uncomfortable as Djokovic took on the crowd

His outburst came after he saw off Holger Rune in straight sets to move into the quarter-finals

His outburst came after he saw off Holger Rune in straight sets to move into the quarter-finals

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 know how it works. It’s fine, it’s fine.

‘I focus on the respectful people that pay for the ticket, and love tennis and appreciate the players and the effort the players put in here. 

‘I played in much more hostile environments, trust me – you guys can’t touch me.’

The 37-year-old seemed to believe some in the crowd were masking boos in the pretence of supporting Rune. To my ears it seemed no different to Lord’s saluting Joe Root after a century.

Rune himself said: ‘I mean, if you don’t know what was happening, probably it sounded like boo. But if we all know what happened, it was my name.’

The tennis felt almost incidental after all that, but for the record Djokovic won 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 and put in by a distance his best display of the Championships so far. Rune was poor, losing the first 12 points of the match and never really recovering.

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.’ 

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. 

‘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.’

Clare Balding also waded in, saying: ‘When Sue Barker came out the other day people who shouting “Suuuuuuuuuuuue”. I don’t think it’s booing.’ 

Social media was split on his comments. ‘That’s a lack of class, I expect better from the Wimbledon crowd,’ said one user on X.

Another said: ‘Just let it go man, have some class, I was embarrassed for him.’

Djokovic’s relationship with the crowd has not always been a friendly one. After beating Roger Federer in the 2019 final, his former coach Boris Becker said he deserved more respect from the crowd who had backed the Swiss star.

Djokovic was annoyed with the Wimbledon crowd throughout the match, and would not accept the explanation from a BBC interviewer that they had only been backing his opponent

Djokovic was annoyed with the Wimbledon crowd throughout the match, and would not accept the explanation from a BBC interviewer that they had only been backing his opponent

Djokovic has not always had the best relationship with the crowd. He is seen blowing them a kiss here after winning match point against Rune

Djokovic has not always had the best relationship with the crowd. He is seen blowing them a kiss here after winning match point against Rune

Djokovic pretends to play a violin during his celebrations as he booked his place in the quarter-finals. He has revealed it is a tribute to his daughter who has been playing the violin for six months

Djokovic pretends to play a violin during his celebrations as he booked his place in the quarter-finals. He has revealed it is a tribute to his daughter who has been playing the violin for six months

Djokovic was informed that the crowd were likely shouting 'Runeeee' but he did not accept this

Djokovic was informed that the crowd were likely shouting ‘Runeeee’ but he did not accept this

And two years ago, he was booed after blowing a kiss to fans following his semi-final win over Briton Cameron Norrie.

Last year, he also played up to the crowd as he took on 20-year-old Spanish star Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final. 

With the crowd backing underdog Alcaraz at times, Djokovic again blew kisses at the fans. 

He was also met with boos during the final when he dented the net post by smashing his racket in frustration, argued with the umpire and glared at the Centre Court crowd.

And in January, the tennis superstar screamed at fans to ‘shut the f*** up’ as he hit out at new rules allowing fans to move around between games at the Australian Open. 

In Wednesday’s quarter-final, fortunately Djokovic will not face a player with a single-syllable surname containing the letter u or a double o. It will be easy to distinguish between boos for him and support for Alex de Minaur.

But he pair do have history after clashing over Djokovic’s vaccination saga during the pandemic.

Aussie star De Minaur was one of the most vocal players in world tennis addressing Djokovic’s deportation and ban from playing in the Australian Open.

‘Look, Australians have gone through a lot,’ he said at the time. ‘There’s no secret about that. They’ve had it very tough. They’ve done a lot of work to protect themselves and their borders.’

There was also drama in another clash last night. Taylor Fritz and Alexander Zverev had a noticeably tense exchange at the net after the match finished

There was also drama in another clash last night. Taylor Fritz and Alexander Zverev had a noticeably tense exchange at the net after the match finished

Taylor Fritz's girlfriend, Morgan Riddle, appeared to take aim at Alexander Zverev afterwards. She posted a video to her Instagram story that showed her enjoying a drink with the caption 'when your man wins 4 the girls.' The story, possibly a reference to the allegations of abuse that Zverev has faced, now appears to have been deleted

Taylor Fritz’s girlfriend, Morgan Riddle, appeared to take aim at Alexander Zverev afterwards. She posted a video to her Instagram story that showed her enjoying a drink with the caption ‘when your man wins 4 the girls.’ The story, possibly a reference to the allegations of abuse that Zverev has faced, now appears to have been deleted

Riddle, a popular social media influencer, watched on as her boyfriend advanced

Riddle, a popular social media influencer, watched on as her boyfriend advanced

He also laughed upon finding out Djokovic had failed in his appeal and was to be deported from Australia while in a press conference with fellow Aussie Jason Kubler.

When Djokovic beat him last year, he told reporters: ‘I don’t have any relationship with him.

‘I respect him as a rival, a colleague, as I respect everyone. I have no problem contacting him, congratulating him, Et cetera.

‘But I don’t have any other relationship. I don’t have any communication with him. He showed in 2022 what he thinks about me.’

The American came from two sets to love down to beat No4 seed Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 6-3. That match itself was not free from drama.

Zverev had a long exchange with Fritz at the end of the match and afterwards said he felt some members of the American’s box were ‘a bit over the top’.

During the match Fritz’s influencer girlfriend Morgan Riddle, who has 17.2million likes on TikTok, wrote ‘cheer loud ladies’ on social media, and afterwards posted a video with the caption ‘when ur man wins 4 the girls’. 

Some viewed those posts as references to Zverev’s court case for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, which was settled last month.

He agreed to pay Brenda Patea, the mother of his child, $217,820, but was found not guilty of any wrongdoing (Patea publicly identified herself as the victim in the case). 

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