Djokovic blasts ‘disrespectful’ Roland-Garros fans

Tension: Novak Djokovic in action against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina

Tension: Novak Djokovic in action against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina

Novak Djokovic called French Open fans “disrespectful” after beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in a tense third-round clash on Friday.

Djokovic, chasing a third Roland Garros title and a men’s record 23rd Grand Slam crown, beat 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 against the Spaniard ranked 34th to reach the last 16. for a 14th consecutive year.

During an often turbulent afternoon, Djokovic drew the ire of fans when he took a medical time-out for treatment on his left thigh late in the second set after spending nearly three hours on the short Philippe Chatrier.

Djokovic, 36, a polarizing figure in tennis, sarcastically applauded the spectators and gave a thumbs up.

In the third set, he kicked a ball skyward in frustration, which again drew ridicule.

Djokovic mocked his tormentors by mimicking their boos and nodding in tired acceptance.

“I think the majority of people come to enjoy tennis or to support one or the other player. But there are people who like to boo everything you do,” Djokovic said.

“It’s something I find disrespectful and frankly I don’t understand it. But it’s their right. They paid the ticket. They can do whatever they want.

“Actually, 99% of the time I will stay silent, but sometimes I will object because I think when someone is being disrespectful, they deserve to have an answer.”

Djokovic’s troubles with the notoriously hostile Paris crowd came a day after American player Taylor Fritz pressed his finger to his lips to silence the fans after knocking out Arthur Rinderknech, the last French player remaining in the draw.

Fritz then blew kisses to the crowd at Court Suzanne Lenglen.

– ‘Up and down’ support –

“Up and down,” Djokovic said when asked to describe his love-hate relationship with the Parisian public who made no secret of their affection for the now-retired Roger Federer and the absentee Rafael Nadal over the years.

On Friday, world number three Djokovic had to come back after a breakdown in the first two sets, saving a set point in the second after Davidovich Fokina failed to serve for the first.

Djokovic lost serve five times in the match as 2021 quarter-finalist Davidovich Fokina matched it blow for blow in the first two sets.

However, the physical exertion took its toll as Djokovic, the champion in 2016 and 2021, swept the third set.

“I knew it would be a tough and physical match. We played three hours just for the first two sets. I thought if I lost the second set we would play for five hours,” Djokovic said.

“He’s an incredible fighter and there aren’t many weaknesses in his game.

“But a win is a win and I’m very proud of the way I played today.”

Next up for the former world number one is a clash with Polish 13th seed Hubert Hurkacz or Peruvian Juan Pablo Varillas.

Djokovic was slow throughout the first set.

He recovered a level break in the sixth game but was broken again in the 11th, his low-energy mood not helped by a code violation for taking too long between points.

Davidovich-Fokina, who beat the Serb on clay in Monte Carlo last year, was unable to save his second break of the set and Djokovic, suddenly awakened from his slumber, claimed the tie-break on a rebound service with a dazzling forehand.

The first set lasted 85 minutes in which the former champion only managed eight winners.

The second set featured six service breaks before Davidovich Fokina wasted a set point in the 12th game.

Djokovic claimed the circuit breaker and yelled at the crowd. Spectators laughed at him as he argued with the referee before calling the medical time-out.

He then took a 3-0 lead in the deciding game and briefly won back the affection of part of the crowd when he helped his opponent onto the pitch after a bad fall.


Leave a Comment