Novak Djokovic ‘creates drama with fans to get himself fired up’, says tennis legend

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic in action Australian Open
Novak Djokovic puts his finger to his ear at the Australian Open

Novak Djokovic initiates drama, especially with fans, during matches as it “gets him going” and “gives him extra energy”, according to Martina Navratilova.

Defending champion Djokovic has been in sublime form during his run to the quarter-final of the Australian Open and he appears to be building up a head of steam

He lost only three games during his fourth-round clash against Adrian Mannarino as he bagelled the French veteran in the opening two sets.

But earlier in the tournament there were a couple of iffy moments for the 24-time Grand Slam winner as he dropped sets against teenager Dino Prizmic in the first round and local hope Alexei Popyrin in the second round.

In both matches he was unhappy with the crowd on Rod Laver Arena and in the clash against Popyrin he decided to respond to a heckler.

“Say that to my face,” he shouted at a spectator before composing himself and running away with the match.

READ MORE: WATCH: Fired up Novak Djokovic challenges heckling fan to ‘come down and say it to my face’

Navratilova likened Djokovic’s antics to that of fellow great John McEnroe as she feels they use the negativity from the crowd to fire themselves up.

“He kind of reminds me of John McEnroe, creating a drama to get himself going,” she told the Tennis Channel.

“And sometimes, Novak does that with fans, he just picks on one and it gets him fired up. But you know, whatever works, sometimes, when the crowd gets negative on you, he goes negative, but it works for him.

“At the end of the day, he wins most of those matches even though he looks like he’s losing it emotionally, you know. But he never loses a point because of that, I think it just gives him extra energy, whatever works, yeah.”

During the post-match press conference Djokovic admitted that he was “annoyed”.

“People made noise between first and second serve the whole match. It is what it is and of course it annoys you but you have to accept it and go with it. It really annoys me when I get heckled,” he revealed.

“I invited a guy to say it to my face and he was apologising from far away. All of a sudden there was an absence of courage when he found me.

“I’m definitely not feeling playing my best but I’ve been in this situation many times and hopefully I will build as the tournament progresses I know what to do.”