Novak Djokovic doubles down after heated Wimbledon crowd clash as Holger Rune disagrees

Ewan West
Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune shake hands after their match at Wimbledon in 2024
Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune shake hands after their match at Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic asserted he will react if “someone steps over the line” as he reflected on his criticism of the crowd’s behaviour in his Wimbledon victory over Holger Rune.

Rune contradicted Djokovic’s claim that fans were booing the Serbian and assessed that the crowd support did not play a big role in the match as the tennis great was “just better” that him.

No 2 seed Djokovic produced a superb performance to dismantle Rune, the world No 15, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the fourth round at Wimbledon on Monday.

During his on-court interview, Djokovic took aim at sections of the Centre Court crowd he felt had disrespected him by chanting Rune’s name as an excuse to boo him.

The 37-year-old said: “To all the fans that have had respect and stayed here tonight, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I appreciate it.

“And to all those people that have chosen to disrespect the player, in this case me, have a goooooooood night. Goooooood night, goooooood night. Very good night. Yeah.

“They were [disrespecting me], they were, they were. I don’t accept it. No no no. I know they were cheering for Rune, but that’s an excuse to also boo.

“Listen, I have been on the tour for more than 20 years. So trust me, I know all the tricks. I know how it works. It’s fine, it’s fine, it’s okay.

“I focus on the respectful people that have respect, that pay [for] the ticket to come and watch tonight, and love tennis and appreciate the players and the effort that the players put in here. I played in much more hostile environments, trust me… you guys can’t touch me.”

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In his post-match press conference, Djokovic was asked if the tournament should “take action against crowd members who are overstepping the line.”

“I don’t know what Wimbledon can really do about it,” the 24-time Grand Slam winner said. “In those particular moments, when the crowd paid their ticket, they have the right to be there and cheer the way they want to cheer.

“That’s absolutely, you know, how they choose to behave or support the player is really up to them. Yes, you could argue that maybe a chair umpire or whoever could step in during certain moments and calm them down.

“But there’s not much you can do, you’re not gonna take out the section of the whole stadium out because they’re behaving or showing disrespect. It’s just the way it is. It’s part of the sport.

“It’s one of the reasons we’re here, it’s why the tournament is so important historically and why we’re globally recognised as tennis players is because of the fans. Because of the interest they put into watching tennis matches, paying tickets.

“I respect that. I try to acknowledge that. All the true tennis fans that really respect players. Of course, you’re gonna support one player over the other. It’s solely up to them. It’s fully understandable. They have the freedom to choose who they back in the match.

“If someone steps over the line, I react. That’s basically what it was. After the match, I said what I said.”

Rune pointed out that fans had used the same chant in his previous matches with Djokovic and argued the support had been fair for both players.

“It all started at US Open the first time we played each other, when the crowd chanted my name and it sounded a little bit like ‘boo’,” the 21-year-old Dane told reporters.

“Then we played each other many more times, more like in Italy and France where they don’t pronounce my name the same way. Yeah, now we’re in England. If you don’t know what was happening, probably it sounded like ‘boo.’

“But, if we all know what happened, it was my name. He’s played so many matches since he played me last time. If he didn’t remember, it could probably sound different for him. But I don’t think it played a massive part in the match. He was just better than me today.

“Whether the crowd was this or that, I think it was great support for both players to be honest. They were supporting him on good points. They were supporting me. Nice scenes on Centre Court.”

Djokovic will face world No 9 Alex de Minaur in the Wimbledon quarter-finals on Wednesday.

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