Novak Djokovic ‘fuelled’ by booing, says John McEnroe as he insists world No 1 deserves ‘more respect’

Novak Djokovic takes a break

John McEnroe has hailed Novak Djokovic as “a remarkable player and person” due to the fact that he is consistently able to use the negative energy from spectators to push himself to a new level.

Djokovic has often found himself not only playing against an on-court opponent, but also against the fans in the stands. The 20-time Grand Slam winner was booed on Sunday when he arrived on Court Suzanne Lenglen ahead of his fourth-round clash against Diego Schwartzman.

However, he produced a perfect response as he brushed aside Schwartzman 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.

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And he is likely to be the underdog again when it comes to crowd support on Tuesday when he takes on one of Roland Garros’ favourite sons, 13-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal, in the quarter-final.

Tennis great McEnroe, though, expects him to turn the negative energy into a positive.

“He does it better than anyone I’ve ever seen,” he said on Eurosport. “I didn’t do it as well. I felt like it affected me more than it helped me. I think there were times where it fuelled me, but he has done it consistently. He’s a remarkable player and person.”

Djokovic has always struggled for crowd support when he plays against fellow Big Three members Nadal and Rafael Nadal, but he often takes it on the chin.

McEnroe, though, insists he deserves more respect.

“He’s been wanting to be respected at that same level, and that sort of fuels him but I think it’s unfair, personally,” he added.

“It’s just something that I can’t explain. I don’t know what it is, honestly.

“He deserves to be – and he is – respected. It’s just that I’m sure it’s frustrating. I think at the end of the day they will like him more after he stopped playing which sort of ended up being the case with myself, I guess.

“But at the time, it’s frustrating. Some of it can be at times your own fault, but I think quite a bit of it isn’t. It’s just that these other guys are so amazing.”