Sunday, July 21, 2024

Wimbledon 2024: Was Novak Djokovic disrespected by Centre Court crowd? Tennis legends have their say… -Dlight News

Was seven-time champion Novak Djokovic disrespected by the Centre Court crowd at Wimbledon? Tennis legend James Blake says the Serb uses chants to fuel the fire as he bids to become a 25-time Grand Slam winner.

Djokovic took aim at Centre Court spectators he claimed disrespected him during a straight-sets win over Holger Rune in the Wimbledon fourth round on Monday night.

A last-16 tie with Rune had been expected to be Djokovic’s biggest test since having surgery on a torn meniscus last month, but the 24-time Grand Slam winner eased into the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory.

Rather than Rune being able to knock Djokovic off stride, it was fans inside Centre Court that frustrated the 37-year-old after he took exception to the surname of his opponent repeatedly being chanted.

Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the second set against Holger Rune on day eight of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London. Picture date: Monday July 8, 2024.
Djokovic claims he was booed by the Centre Court crowd

During a heated on-court interview, Djokovic said: “Well, to all the fans that had respect and stayed here tonight, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart, I appreciate it.

“And to all those people that have chosen to disrespect the player, in this case me, have a gooooood night. Gooood night, gooood night. Very good night.”

It was put to Djokovic that they were merely chanting Rune and not booing him, but the second seed countered back.

“They were [disrespecting], they were, they were. I don’t accept it,” Djokovic insisted.

“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. Trust me, I know all the tricks. I know how it works, it is fine. It is fine, it’s OK.

“I focus on the respectful people, they have respect, that pay a ticket to come and watch tonight and love tennis.

“Love tennis and appreciate the players, appreciate the efforts that the players put in here. I have played in much more hostile environments, trust me. You guys can’t touch me.”

Tennis legends spoke in Djokovic’s defence at the All England Club on Tuesday, saying the former world No 1 doesn’t need anymore motivation.

Former world No 4 James Blake

FILE - James Blake, director of the Miami Open tennis tournament, smiles after the singles final Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Miami Open tournament director and former Top 10 player James Blake was fined $56,250 for violating tennis's rules about betting sponsorship, the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
James Blake says Djokovic uses any negativity as motivation

“I think it’s an interesting mindset because I don’t know how much Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech resonated over here, but he talked about all the fights in his life and his career,” said the American, who has served as tournament director for the Miami Open since 2018.

“When people thought he couldn’t do something or he thought they were speaking negatively about him, you scratch your head and think ‘it wasn’t that bad’ but he used it to motivate him and for Novak it’s probably tough to get motivated.

“The guy is the greatest of all time and everyone is coming for him. If you need something to motivate you and you can use a crowd cheering for your opponent, whatever it takes to motivate you. He’s so good at finding motivation and inspiration everyday and that’s what it took for him.”

Former Australian Open finalist Thomas Enqvist

Sweden's Thomas Enqvist returns a ball during his match against Spain's Sergi Bruguera at the ATP Champions Tour in Chengdu China Saturday Nov. 7, 2009.
Sweden’s Thomas Enqvist believes Djokovic is now ready to win another Wimbledon title

“When Novak puts his mind into it – for me, it means he is ready,” said the former world No 4 from Sweden. “He has the game face on and that’s what we all like to see. Novak is into it and he’s won this title seven time before so, for me when I saw that I thought, ‘yes, he’s ready for another title’.”

Former British No 1 Greg Rusedski

Greg Rusedski in action during his match against Sweden's Magnus Norman, at the 1999 Wimbledon tennis Championships.
Greg Rusedski says ‘it’s nothing disrespectful’ to Djokovic

“We had Luke Donald ironically in the Royal Box and everyone thinks it’s being rude, but it’s just the Danish chant so there’s nothing disrespectful to Novak there,” said the former US Open finalist. “He’s a great champion and the Danes have their chant for Rune and we’re going to hear that a lot more as he career progresses.

“He passed the biggest test with flying colours. Some people were like, ‘what test was there?’ We saw him do the full splits with the knee which shows us that he’s fully fit. Holger hits the ball harder than most people on the tour and it didn’t bother him whatsoever. He’s defying logic and now he’s joint favourite with Jannik Sinner.”

Kyrgios: Fans were not booing Djokovic | ‘He doesn’t need more motivation’

Nick Kyrgios has been working as a commentator and pundit at the Australian Open
Nick Kyrgios says Djokovic ‘doesn’t need more motivation’

Nick Kyrgios told BBC Sport…

“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.”

Former Wimbledon semi-finalist Marcos Baghdatis

Marco Baghdatis of Cyprus celebrates winning a point against Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff in a Men's singles match during day two of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Tuesday, July 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Marco Baghdatis feels it could be all in Djokovic’s head

“I was travelling so I didn’t see it and it’s tough to comment on that,” said the 2006 Australian Open runner-up. “But I don’t know if it’s mentally or people [upsetting him].”

What’s coming up on Sky Sports Tennis?

In the run-up to the final Grand Slam of 2024 – the US Open – you can watch all of the biggest tennis stars in action live on Sky Sports as they compete across the hard-court season.

  • Hamburg Open (ATP 500) July 15-21
  • Newport Hall of Fame Open (ATP 250) July 15-21
  • Swiss Open (ATP 250) July 15-21
  • Bastad Open (ATP 250) July 15-21
  • Palermo Ladies Open (WTA 250) July 15-21
  • Hungarian Grand Prix (WTA 250) July 15-21
  • Prague Open (WTA 250) July 21-26

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