Exclusive: ‘Novak Djokovic has been treated badly,’ says John Lloyd, but ‘love will come out’ after he retires

Novak Djokovic serving

Former British No 1 and BBC commentator John Lloyd believes Novak Djokovic has not been given the respect he deserves by fans and the press, but feels people will “go crazy for him” once he retires.

While Djokovic is adored and considered the greatest player of all time by his army of fans, the Serbian has often been on the receiving end of boos from spectators during matches, especially when he is up against the other two members of the Big Three Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Despite being one of the all time greats, winning 20 Grand Slams and spending a record number of weeks at world No 1, he has also often had a strained relationship with sections of the media.

Lloyd feels defending Wimbledon champion Djokovic deserves more credit as he suggested the respect might come once he is close to retirement.

In an exclusive interview with Tennis365’s Kevin Palmer during the launch his new autobiography Dear John, Lloyd said: “It really is [a bizarre story that Djokovic does not get any credit]. We talk about this era and it is almost for Novak as if he is fortunate to be in this era because he has been great in so many ways, but he is unfortunate that he is in this era with Rafa and Roger and you put Andy [Murray] obviously below that.

“They are great players, but they have a popularity with the fans and with the press that he doesn’t and I think he has been treated pretty badly, certainly by spectators and certainly by the press.

“He is one of these players – as there are some stars and I will throw in Jimmy Connors right away – they are treated a lot better after they come back. When they come back either as a broadcaster or they come back at 36 or 37 and they walk into the stadiums and people go crazy about them. It is almost like ‘I wasn’t a big fan of you some much then, but now I appreciate the fact that you were amazing back then’ and then all the love comes out.

“I have a feeling with Novak it will be a little that way and the love will come out probably after he has finished or when people feel like it is his last year then everybody will be going crazy for him. That is just the nature of the beast.”

John Lloyd autobiography
John Lloyd autobiography

Seven-time Grand Slam champion John McEnroe was also not one of the favourites on tour when he was still active, but he has become one of the most respected commentators since hanging up his racket.

Lloyd added: “He was hated by the press and by most of the public. Jimmy Connors even more so and look at them now. They have come back – well Mac has never left as he has gone into broadcasting, commercials and all that kind of stuff and he is now loved by everybody.”