Novak Djokovic gets into it with Wimbledon fans after reaching the quarterfinals


LONDON — Maybe the Centre Court spectators were saluting Novak Djokovic’s opponent by saying his name. Maybe they were booing Djokovic, trying to rattle him. The 24-time Grand Slam champion was sure it was the latter — and he let everyone know he was not happy about it.

Djokovic easily beat 15th-seeded Holger Rune 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in just over two hours Monday night to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals, then made sure to get a message across to those fans he thought were against him.

Rune’s supporters at various tournaments often will stretch out his last name, saying, “Ruuuuuune!” — which sounds rather similar to “Boooooo!” — and that happened again Monday.

During his on-court postmatch interview, Djokovic spoke briefly about the match, but then veered into a discussion about the people in the stands.

“To all the fans that have respect and that stayed here tonight: Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate it. And to all those people that have chosen to disrespect the player — in this case, me — have a goooood night. Gooooood night. Gooooood night. Very gooooood night,” he said, stretching out the “Os” in “good” so they sounded like “boo.”

The interviewer tried to dissuade Djokovic from thinking anyone was trying to taunt him.

“They were. They were. They were. I don’t accept it. I know they were cheering for Rune. But that’s an excuse to also boo,” Djokovic said. “Listen, I’ve been on the tour for more than 20 years. So trust me, I know all the tricks. I know how it works. It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s OK. I focus on the respectful people, that have respect, that paid (for) a ticket to watch tonight — and love tennis. And love tennis. And appreciate the players and the effort that the players put in here.”

At his news conference later, Djokovic was asked whether he thinks the All England Club should do something to curb rowdy fan behavior.

“Look, I don’t know what Wimbledon can really do about it. I mean, in those particular moments when it happens, the crowd paid their tickets. They have the right to be there and cheer the way they want to cheer. That’s absolutely something they choose — how they behave or how they choose to support the player is really up to them,” Djokovic responded. “Yes, you could argue maybe a chair umpire or whoever can step in in certain moments and calm them down, but there’s not much you can do. You’re not going to take out the whole section of the crowd or stadium because they’re misbehaving or showing disrespect.”

Rune — who got off to a terrible start in the match, dropping the first 12 points — didn’t make much of it all.

“If you don’t know what was happening, probably it sounded like ‘boo,’” he said.

“He was just better than me today,” Rune said. “Whether the crowd was this or that, I think it was great support for both players, to be honest.”

When the match ended, Djokovic gestured as if he were playing a violin, maybe mockingly indicating he felt bad for anyone in the arena that he had saddened by winning and getting to the quarterfinals at the All England Club for the 15th time.

He has won the championship at Wimbledon seven times and was the runner-up to Carlos Alcaraz last year.

“I played in much more hostile environments, trust me,” Djokovic said. “You guys can’t touch me.”

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AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis



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