• Thursday, July 18, 2024

Sports

Djokovic slams ‘disrespectful’ fans after reaching 60th Grand Slam quarters

Djokovic is vying for his 8th Wimbledon title, which would tie him with Roger Federer for the most Wimbledon men’s singles titles.

After securing his place in the quarter-finals, Djokovic addressed the crowd, expressing frustration with what he perceived as disrespectful behaviour. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Shailesh Solanki

Novak Djokovic reached his 60th Grand Slam quarter-final at Wimbledon on Monday, overcoming Denmark’s Holger Rune with a straight-sets victory, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Despite his dominant performance, the match was overshadowed by Djokovic’s confrontation with a section of Centre Court fans.

Djokovic, the seven-time Wimbledon champion and World No. 2, demonstrated his supremacy from the outset. He won the first 12 points, establishing control early in the match.

The Serb, who is chasing a record-setting 25th Grand Slam title, encountered minimal resistance from the 15th-seeded Rune, aside from a brief challenge at the end of the second set.

Rune managed to save several set points but ultimately couldn’t keep pace with Djokovic’s precision and skill.

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Djokovic plays a backhand against Holger Rune during the men’s singles fourth-round match. (Photo: Getty Images)

After securing his place in the quarter-finals, Djokovic addressed the crowd, expressing frustration with what he perceived as disrespectful behaviour. Throughout the match, a portion of the audience chanted “Ruuuuune,” which Djokovic interpreted as booing.

“To all the fans that have shown respect and stayed here tonight, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I appreciate it,” Djokovic said. “And to all those people who chose to disrespect the player — in this case me — have a goooooooood night,” he added.

When the on-court interviewer suggested the chants were merely in support of Rune, Djokovic was unconvinced. “They were booing. They were. I am not accepting it. No, no, no. I know they were cheering for Rune, but that’s an excuse to also boo,” he said.

Djokovic, who has been on the professional tour for over two decades, stated he is familiar with crowd dynamics and tricks. “I’ve played in much more hostile environments. Trust me, you guys can’t touch me,” he said.

Later, Djokovic acknowledged that fans have the right to support their preferred players but emphasised that stepping over the line warrants a reaction. “I respect true fans, but if someone steps over the line, I will react,” he told reporters.

This year’s Wimbledon marks another significant chapter in Djokovic’s illustrious career. He is vying for his 8th Wimbledon title, which would tie him with Roger Federer for the most Wimbledon men’s singles titles and place him second overall, behind Martina Navratilova’s nine titles.

Djokovic won his 22nd, 23rd, and 24th Grand Slam titles last year, equalling and then surpassing Rafael Nadal’s record for the most Grand Slam men’s singles titles and matching Margaret Court’s all-time record.

In addition to his Grand Slam pursuits, Djokovic is aiming to win his 99th Tour-level title, placing him third in the Open Era behind Jimmy Connors and Federer. Of his 98 titles, eight have been on grass, including seven at Wimbledon and one at Eastbourne in 2017.

Djokovic will face Australian ninth seed Alex de Minaur in the quarter-finals, a match that promises to test his resilience and skill. De Minaur is known for his speed and tenacity, but Djokovic remains confident. “I’m feeling good,” he said. “Alex is one of the quickest, if not the quickest player on the Tour. So, you know, I’m going to have to do a lot of running. But I’m still enjoying running at 37, so I’m okay.”

Despite dealing with a knee injury that forced him to withdraw from the French Open quarter-finals, Djokovic has had a remarkable season. He reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open and Monte Carlo, and the quarter-finals at Roland Garros. Notably, he did not play a grass-court tournament prior to Wimbledon, a strategy that has served him well in the past, winning the title here without a warm-up event in multiple years.

Djokovic’s quest for his 25th Grand Slam title would make him the oldest man in the Open Era to win Wimbledon and the first to win multiple Wimbledon titles after turning 35. He already holds the record for most Grand Slam titles won after the age of 30 and continues to extend this record with each victory.

(With inputs from AFP, Reuters)

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