Novak Djokovic baffled by French Open booing – ‘I don’t want to make enemies’

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic angry
Novak Djokovic unimpressed

Novak Djokovic admits he is at a loss for words over the “disrespect” that is being shown to players at the French Open, saying most of the time he “swallows” the poor behaviour, but “sometimes I oppose that”.

This year’s French Open has been bad-tempered when it comes to those in the stands as several players have been booed, starting with Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk following her defeat to Aryna Sabalenka on day one. The likes of Cameron Norrie, Taylor Fritz and now Djokovic have all come under fire from the spectators in the stands.

Djokovic was loudly booed when he took a medical timeout at the end of the second set against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Friday and the 22-time Grand Slam winner made his frustrations known after the match.

“I don’t want to make enemies, because I’m still in the tournament,” the tennis told Eurosport’s The Cube. “I remain diplomatic. But sometimes I don’t understand.

“I double fault and they boo, I take a medical timeout and they boo. Some people obviously like to do that, but it’s not most of the audience doing it.

“Most of them are there to support me or the other player, to enjoy tennis. But some people love to interfere with the game and disrespect the players. Most of the time I swallow, I don’t react, but sometimes I oppose that because it is disrespectful.”

During the post-match press conference he added that his relationship with the Roland Garros crowd has always been “up and down”.

“They gave me a lot of support in the years when I was losing in finals, the last couple of steps before winning a title. Those years I received quite a lot of support and love and I was very grateful for that. Wonderful memories,” he said.

“I still get support, even today, and I think the majority of people come to enjoy tennis, come to support one player or the other, but there are individuals, groups, whatever who love to boo every single thing you do.”

As for his performance against Davidovich Fokina, Djokovic was far from his best as he initially found himself behind in the first set while he also had to save a set point in the second set.

But all that matters is that his name remains in the main draw with the unseeded Juan Pablo Varillas up next after the Peruvian upset 13th seed Hubert Hurkacz in five sets.

“Of course, a win is a win,” Djokovic said. “Maybe the first two sets were [too long]. If I lost the second set, I’d have probably played for five hours today. But you have to be ready.

“That’s what Slams are all about, best of five. Playing on the slowest surface in sport. It takes a lot of effort but we have to believe in ourselves and try to make the most out of it. I’m proud of the performance.”

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic bemoans long list of injuries after reaching French Open fourth round again

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