Novak Djokovic news: Former Wimbledon champion says jeers from Federer fans helped the Serb

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic faces an uncertain future amid ongoing doubts over whether he will be allowed to play in upcoming events if he remains unvaccinated against Covid-19, yet former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek believes the Serbian will again thrive amid the adversity.

Rafael Nadal’s stunning win at the Australian Open last month edged him ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer in the race to secure the most Grand Slam titles, with the 21st title for the Spaniard lifting his hopes of finishing his career as the winner of the most Grand Slam titles.

Despite that twist in the tennis plot, 1996 Wimbledon champion Krajicek has told Tennis365 that he can only see one winner in the battle for major titles, as he is convinced Djokovic still has the edge on Nadal and Federer.

Djokovic has often had tennis fans cheering for his rivals over the course of his career, but Krajicek suggests any negativity actually serves to inspire the world No 1.

“One of the reasons why Novak has been so successful is thanks to the Federer fans,” Krajicek told Tennis365 as he spoke as tournament director at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

“The Federer fans when he played against Novak were so much pushing for Roger and thought they were helping him, but they were actually helping Novak to win those matches.

“What happened in Australia was tough for him and it will be interesting to see what happens in Dubai. Normally you would say this is going to motivate the guy and you don’t want to play him because he is more lethal, but this is different.

“He is used to fighting on the court with the crowd, his opponent and maybe himself sometimes, but this must have been difficult. This is a total different pressure and a different disappointment than having the crowd against you or being match point down at Wimbledon and coming back to win.

“But you know what, he is one of the toughest guys I’ve ever seen in sport and maybe it will fire him up for. It’s tough to know how he will respond to this.”

The debate over Djokovic’s deportation from Australia last month due to his unvaccinated status continues to rumble on, with Krajicek suggesting the rules were not clarified before the player arrived.

“There was a misunderstanding or a miscommunication between Novak, Tennis Australia, or Victoria,” he added. “If he thought he couldn’t get into the country, he wouldn’t have traveled there.

“That was not nice for Novak, not nice for the tournament at the beginning, but in the end it was a great Australian Open. I’m happy for tennis fans that in the end it was a great tournament to watch.”

Djokovic is due to return to action in Dubai later this month, but there are doubts over whether he will be allowed to enter America to play in the Indian Wells Masters next month if he remains unvaccinated.