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

Novak Djokovic continues to silence his doubters
Novak Djokovic gestures to the crowd

During a tense second-round triumph against Alexei Popyrin at the Australian Open on Wednesday night, defending champion Novak Djokovic urged a heckler to “say that to my face”.

At 2-2 in the fourth set, the 10-time Australian Open winner stopped, moved to the back of the court, and shouted at a fan.

He had to be encouraged to return to the match by the chair umpire, but as is typical of the Serbian, he showed no ill effects from the fan getting his blood up and powering to a win

He won three straight games to pull the match away from the Australian player off the back of that, winning 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3.

After winning the match on a Popyrin blunder, he turned back to the fans and roared, pumping his fist in celebration.

With Nick Kyrgios on commentary, the incident got unparalleled coverage, with the Aussie firebrand happy to share his thoughts on ‘jerks who wouldn’t have anything to say to Djokovic if they met him in a hallway’.

Kyrgios also felt that getting fired up by the crowd interaction lifted Djokovic to another level.

“He looks like a different player,” said Kyrgios on Eurosport.

Djokovic had to fight hard for the second round in a row at the Australian Open, defeating local favourite Alexei Popyrin to get to the third round.

The world No appeared to be faced with the majority of the Rod Laver crowd being against him for once but prevailed 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3, advancing to a match against Argentina’s 30th seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

Djokovic, who is attempting to become the first player to win 25 grand slam singles titles, was spotted stretching out a wrist injury during the match but did not need treatment.

However on commentary Kyrgios noted a few forehand errors that might be put down to the injury.

“When’s the last time we’ve seen this many forehand errors?” he asked.

Popyrin fought valiantly, boosted by the fans, but despite appearing exhausted at times, Djokovic advanced.

However, he has now spent more than seven hours on court, including a four-hour triumph over Dino Prizmic on day one.

In the first set, Popyrin had break chances in the fourth and sixth games, with  Kyrgios on commentary claiming Djokovic’s aura was enough to put opponents under very real strain.

Djokovic still showed all his great defensive qualities and left Kyrgios impressed.

“Wow – settle down Nole,” said Kyrgios. “Best defender of all time? Arguably. 36? More like 26.”

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