Djokovic 'Drama' With Fans Reminds Me Of McEnroe Says Tennis Legend Navratilova

Djokovic 'Drama' With Fans Reminds Me Of McEnroe Says Tennis Legend Navratilova

by Nurein Ahmed

Novak Djokovic's on-court squabble with tennis fans mirrors that of tennis great John McEnroe, according to Martina Navratilova.

Djokovic is halfway from capturing a record-extending 11th Australian Open men's title after marching into his 58th Grand Slam quarterfinal following Sunday's comprehensive win over 20th seed Adrian Mannarino of France.

Having kickstarted his title defense with serious concerns about his well-being, considering he was tended to for a wrist issue in two matches at the United Cup, Djokovic has not experienced any pain thus far after utilizing the time between mixed team event and the Australian Open to recover.

However, Djokovic's progress has not been devoid of drama. For instance, he played in the longest first-round match of his Grand Slam career on the historic first Sunday of the Australian Open. Djokovic needed four hours to beat the talented Croatian teenager Dino Prizmic.

In the second round, he faced Alexei Popyrin in front of a near-partisan crowd, and he was involved in a heated altercation with a heckler in the stands who shouted at him. Clearly unimpressed, Djokovic called him out and asked him to repeat what he said to his face.

The umpire, Carlos Bernades, calmed down the Serb, who eventually won the match in four sets. Djokovic's altercation with tennis fans has happened in many other instances in the past, and he has been confrontational on several occasions.

Speaking to the Tennis Channel Live Podcast, Martina Navratilova compared the Serb to retired great John McEnroe, who was also a confrontational figure on the court despite his overwhelming success as a player.

"He kind of reminds me of John McEnroe, creating a drama to get himself going. And sometimes, Novak does that with fans, he just picks on one and it gets him fired up. But you know, whatever works, sometimes, when the crowd gets negative on you, he goes negative, but it works for him."

"At the end of the day, he wins most of those matches even though he looks like he's losing it emotionally, you know. But he never loses a point because of that, I think it just gives him extra energy, whatever works, yeah."

While many people believe Djokovic fares better when the crowd is against him, even suggesting so himself, he takes comfort in playing in friendlier atmospheres. Djokovic will hope that will be the case when he plays Taylor Fritz in the quarterfinal on Tuesday.


You may also like