Novak Djokovic concedes it “upsets him” when fans act inappropriately towards him following an incident in his second round Australian Open win which appeared to inspire him to victory.
Djokovic was up two sets to one on Australia’s Alexei Popyrin and locked at 2-2 in the fourth set when a fan who was yelling out at him caused the Serbian to lash out, asking the attendee to “come down and say it to my face”.
It was another incident of poor fan behaviour at Rod Laver Arena during a Djokovic match. Just last year, also during the second round, a fan was kicked out after drunkenly heckling him for several sets.
UFC 297: STRICKLAND VS DU PLESSIS | SUN 21st JAN | Order Now with Main Event on Kayo Sports. Main Event on Kayo Sports and Foxtel is the new exclusive home of UFC Pay-Per-View events!
Asked what the fan said, Djokovic quipped: “I mean, you don’t want to know.
“There was a lot of things that were being told to me on the court, particularly from that corner, and the same side the other corner. I was tolerating it for most of the match. At one point I had enough, and I asked him whether he wants to come down and tell it to my face.
“When you confront somebody, unfortunately for him, he didn’t have the courage to come down. That’s what I was asking him. If you have courage, if you’re such a tough man, tough guy, come down and tell it to my face, and let’s have a discussion about it.
“He was apologising from far away. That’s all it is.”
After the incident Djokovic won 10 of 12 points, taking a match-sealing 5-2 lead in the fourth set.
“Maybe that was needed,” he suggested.
“Look, I don’t want to be in those types of situations. Yeah, I was flat I guess emotionally. Game-wise I was quite flat for some part of the match, end of second set, most of the third set. Maybe that was needed for me to be shaken up a bit and start to find the kind of intensity on the court that I needed to have all match.”
But he added: “I’m not going to sit and say it’s all good. It’s not good. Of course, it upsets me. I’m frustrated. I don’t want to be experiencing that, but I have to accept it as it is.
“Sometimes I don’t tolerate when somebody crosses the line. That’s it. That’s what happened. People have a few drinks… I guess late at night as well, that probably also has an effect on how they feel and behave.
“That’s okay. People pay tickets to come and watch us. They want to see the show. They want to have fun. They’re allowed to do that. There’s no issue in terms of I never asked anyone to leave the stadium. I never asked the chair umpire to take somebody out. I wouldn’t do that because he paid his ticket, and he has the right to be there and say what he wants to say and behave how he wants to behave.
“But if somebody crosses the line, I’m going to take it to him, as I did to this guy, ask him if he wants to come closer and tell me what he wants to tell me. Offend me, insult me as he did.
That’s all it is. He was not really keen on coming down. That’s what it was.”