Novak Djokovic embroiled in angry clashes with Wimbledon fans as he beats Holger Rune

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic clashing with the Wimbledon spectators once again
Novak Djokovic clashing with the Wimbledon spectators once again

Novak Djokovic’s fractious relationship with Wimbledon’s Centre Court crowd exploded again as he was involved in some ugly scenes during his win against Holger Rune.

Djokovic moved into a 60th Grand Slam quarter-final after a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win, but that scoreline barely tells a fraction of a story from a one-sided match.

Not for the first time on Centre Court, Djokovic was cast into the role of “bad boy” as the late-night crowd, some of whom may have had a little too much alcohol, opted to cheer on Denmark’s Rune but shouting his name in unison.

Djokovic appeared to believe they were booing him, which saw him complain to the chair umpire and also pick out individual members of the crowd as he hit back at them.

“I am not accepting it. No no no. I know they were cheering for Rune but that’s an excuse to also boo,” said Djokovic in his on-court interview.

“Listen, I have been on the tour for more than 20 years. I know all the tricks. I focus on the respectful people that pay for the ticket, and love tennis and appreciate the players. I played in much more hostile environments, trust me… you guys can’t touch me.”

He then started to mock the crowd as he added: “To all the fans that have had respect and stayed here tonight, I think 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.”

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Djokovic was attempting to dilute how much the crowd’s support for Rune had affected him, but this was another example of the Serbian struggling to accept the lack of support and respect that comes his way from tennis fans.

Even though he is the most successful male player in the history of tennis, Djokovic has often failed to get support from tennis fans around the world.

That story has been especially relevant in London.

Both at Wimbledon and when the ATP Finals were held in the city, Djokovic was regularly cast as the pantomime villain for the fans and it became clear some time ago that he has had enough of this role.

The fans cheering for Rune were not Danish or big fans of the player they were supporting, but their loyalties to him for one night only were based around the fact that he was playing Djokovic.

That must infuriate a player who has achieved so much in the sport, but he tried to be gracious around the comments that clearly turned the spectators against him once again.

“I’m very pleased,” said Djokovic of his latest Wimbledon win.

“I don’t think he has played anywhere close to his best, to be honest. It was a tough start for him. He lost the first 12 points and I think that got to him mentally.

“Waiting all day to come out on the court is never easy. The tension is building up and stressed about getting out on the court.

“On my end I think I’ve done things at the important moments. Things could have looked different if I lost those services games but very solid at the end and I’m very happy to get through in straight sets.”

If this was the first time the Wimbledon crowd was cheering on Djokovic’s opponent, the seven-time champion may have been less concerned by their response.

Yet this trend has been a part of his story on a grass court he has made his own down the years and he has clearly run out of patience with fans who refuse to give him the respect he has earned.