Former British No 1 on why she prefers Novak Djokovic to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

Kevin Palmer
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic - who is the GOAT?
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic has rarely come out on top in the popularity battle with his great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, but the Serbian superstar has a big supporter in former British No 1 Johanna Konta.

Djokovic has often had battles with negative spectators in the stands as he has embarked on his record-breaking career, with his numerous clashes with fans at Wimbledon this summer highlighting that issue.

Now former world No 4 Konta has confirmed happy to position herself as a member of ‘Nolefam’, the collective name often used by Djokovic fans to support their hero.

While Konta is not quite as devoted as some of Djokovic’s supporters around the world, she told Tennis365.com that Djokovic deserves more support from tennis fans.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion has often been battling negativity from the stands over the course of his career and Konta has suggested he deserves better ahead of next week’s US Open.

“I think out of all of them, Novak has had the toughest go when it comes to image, for whatever reasons,” Konta told Tennis365.com ahead of the return of tennis on Sky Sports at the US Open.

“He just got there a bit later so you had really strong fan bases for Rafa and for Roger.

“Also, Rafa and Roger can claim they changed the game, they brought in something new. Novak can’t really claim that. He just got there a bit later, but by God he is one of the main reasons why the game is where is it now.

“I think it sucks for him that he doesn’t get that kind of fan recognition. I think also, you know, people want to jump on the bandwagon to hate on someone.

“People don’t like Djokovic because it’s trendy. I don’t think any one person can say why they don’t like Djokovic.

“No one knows him, just like no one knows Roger or Rafa personally. If you stop any fan and ask them why they don’t like Djokovic, they won’t know really.

“That’s why I’m a secret Djokovic fan.”

Djokovic’s remarkable win against Carlos Alcaraz in Sunday’s epic Cincinnati Masters final has whetted the appetite for what may come between the game’s top two male players heading into the US Open and Konta insists the Serbian great has nothing to prove in New York.

“I really want Djokovic to get to 24 Grand Slams,” added Konta, as she backed the Serbian to claim another major title. “I always support the top dog and not the underdog.

“I always feel more for the people who are expected to win because it’s just harder. It’s a lot harder to achieve and keep achieving again and again like these players have.

“Why would you not root for that? Djokovic hasn’t got a point to prove against anyone, but he will want to win again for himself.

“He lost a brilliant (Wimbledon) final against a brilliant player who is probably going to be the future of our sport, but I just hope he gets to 24 and hopefully a few more after that.”

Konta’s words are backed up by former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, who told Tennis365 that the Serbian maestro deserves more respect from tennis fans around the world, but she suggested he will claim the ultimate prize in the final analysis.

“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,” Bartoli told Tennis365.

“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.