Former ATP pro calls for respect for ‘unloved GOAT’ Novak Djokovic
Former pro and renowned tennis entertainer Mansour Bahrami believes Novak Djokovic “suffers” from the fact he is “unloved” and urged fans to show the Serbian respect.
Bahrami declared that Djokovic is “the greatest player in history” irrespective of whether people like him and criticised spectators for “whistling” the tennis legend simply for winning.
Djokovic will face world No 4 Jannik Sinner in the final of the 2023 ATP Finals in Turin on Sunday as he looks to add a seventh title in his superb 2023 season.
The world No 1 is seeking revenge on the 22-year-old Italian, who defeated him in three sets en route to compiling a 3-0 record in the group stage of the event.
Sinner overcame third-ranked Daniil Medvedev in three sets in the semi-finals, while Djokovic produced a stunning display to dismantle No 2 seed Carlos Alcaraz in straight sets.
The 36-year-old Serbian is looking to surpass his great rival Roger Federer by claiming a record seventh title at the year-end championships.
In an interview with DH Sports+, Bahrami, a former French Open runner-up in doubles, argued the 24-time Grand Slam champion deserves better treatment from crowds.
“He is unloved, and he suffers from that. But you have to have respect for this boy. He is the greatest player in history. We may not like it. I understand. But we must not assassinate him. If you don’t like it, don’t applaud it, but don’t whistle at it,” said the French-Iranian.
“He wins and we whistle him. What did he do wrong? Nothing! He suffered from this for a long time. Now I think he manages to take a step back from this situation. He’s a great pro. We must not forget that he fell into the same era as [Rafael] Nadal and [Roger] Federer, two very popular players.
“He did everything to be loved. Sometimes too much for me. He’d better play his matches, win them and go home. People think it’s fake. This is not true. He loves the public and he wants the public to love him.”
Since retiring in 2003, Bahrami has become famous in tennis for his trick shots and humourous antics during exhibitions and invitational matches.
Respected commentator and former player Mark Petchey questioned the lack of support Djokovic received during his win over Hubert Hurkacz in Turin.
“I find it really disheartening at times when I hear that kind of support for Hurkacz. Maybe they want three sets, maybe they don’t understand the significance that Novak might go through even if he doesn’t win,” said the Brit during commentary for Amazon Prime Video.
“I just feel Novak is at this stage of his career that, even if you don’t agree with every decision that he has made, no genius across all walks of life has always made decisions you always agree with.
“But I do feel that as he strides atop of the men’s game at this stage of his career and given all the sacrifices and sporting moments he has given to us, I hope the crowds around the world in the final vestiges of his career give him the love and support and the embrace that all of that hard work deserves.
“I would hate to feel that every time he sits in this situation that all that cascades down from these stadium walls because I just don’t think it’s fair. I understand it against Sinner, with an Italian crowd, but in this situation (against Hurkacz), it just wouldn’t happen for Roger [Federer] and Rafa [Nadal] and it’s just not right.”
Tennis chief reveals how he brought Emma Raducanu back to Aukland for comeback event
Tournament director Nicolas Lamperin revealed how he brough Raducanu back to New Zealand.
Realistic targets for Rafael Nadal and Emma Raducanu as new comeback footage is released
The tennis world is holding its breath…
Olympics clear Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in Paris as neutrals
Russian and Belarusian athletes will get their shot at gold at Paris 2024.
Naomi Osaka wants to further her tennis education and win more Grand Slams
Naomi Osaka believes that she has a lot to learn about the game.
ITF’s ‘Class of 2023’ revealed as the five most promising junior players in the world are identified
Away from the spotlight at the top of the sport, this has been a stand-out year for junior players thriving on the ITF’s World Tennis Tour.
Iga Swiatek: Biography, Lifestyle, Lovelife, Net Worth, Career, Endorsements
Find out more about Iga Swiatek.
The 20 countries with the most ATP titles in 2023: Novak Djokovic’s Serbia 1st, United States 5th
A look at the different countries to win ATP Tour singles titles in 2023.
Huge slide for fallen world No 1 in UTR rankings as Iga Swiatek leads the way
The final UTR rankings for 2023 show Poland’s Swiatek as the outstanding No 1.
Emma Raducanu could face a huge name in her first match back on the WTA Tour
Emma Raducanu is preparing to make her comeback and the the entry list has been released for her return in Aukland.