Former Wimbledon champion on why Novak Djokovic will never be loved by tennis fans

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic hits back at Wimbledon fans
Novak Djokovic not impressed with Centre Court fans

He is one of the greatest tennis players of all time, yet Novak Djokovic continues to be the subject of negativity from tennis fans around the world.

Djokovic clashed on several occasions with spectators at Wimbledon this summer, in what has become a familiar story for the 23-time Grand Slam champion.

Now former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli has told that the Serbian great is destined to finish his career without the universal love of tennis fans.

While respect will always be there for Djokovic’s achievements, Bartoli suggests he is guilty of little more than bad timing are he strides to seek acclaim from the stands.

“I feel the Australian Open is slightly different as the Serbian community is so big there, but the other three (Grand Slams) are more challenging for him,” said Bartoli, speaking Tennis365 in her role as a Sky Sports analyst ahead of the US Open.

“I just feel that Novak raises himself and is even stronger when he is against adversity. He likes to play and compete against it.

“I think people just got used so much to two players facing each other. If you look at the history of tennis it was (Bjorn) Borg against (John) McEnroe, it was (Pete) Sampras against (Andre) Agassi and it was Roger (Federer) against (Rafa) Nadal. You are not used to having a third one.

“The third one feels like the disruptor. You want to cheer for one or the other. You say ‘I was to cheer for Roger’ or ‘I want to cheer for Rafa’. You don’t want the third one that comes in and wins everything.

“It was more the timing than anything else. When you talk to all the players and the fans around the world, people like Novak’s personality and they have so much respect for his game.

“But one was for Roger, the elegance, against Rafa the grinder, who has won 14 times at Roland Garros. But you can’t really go to the third one.

“If Novak had played just one other player, I think he would have had a much bigger fan base.

“So I think he has gained the respect from everyone, but in terms of the love, this is slightly different. It’s just human nature to cheer for one or the other and you don’t want the third one.”

Bartoli went on to suggest Djokovic will have the last laugh on his detractors, as he will finish his career as the undisputed best player of all-time, even with the new threat presented to him by Carlos Alcaraz.

“I think when he finishes his career, most likely he will be the only one standing with the most Grand Slams and everything else he has achieved as well,” she added.

“To answer your question on whether it is too early to write off Djokvoic, you can say he has 23 Grand Slam titles and Alcaraz has two.

“What we can say is it is great for men’s tennis to have Alcaraz and Holger Rune who are so young and complete, I feel they are the two who will take over when Rafa and Novak has retired.”

The US Open returns exclusively to Sky Sports and NOW with access to all court feeds from 28 August.

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