'Disliked' Djokovic unfazed by fan support for rivals

Sports | 20 Feb 2020

Novak Djokovic does not feel antagonized by lack of fan support when facing his biggest rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in major finals on the ATP Tour, the world's top-ranked tennis player says.

Pundits have often suggested that Djokovic gets infuriated as well as galvanized by overwhelming support for Federer and Nadal when he locks horns with them, but the 32-year-old Serbian offered a different view.

"I've read a lot of stuff suggesting that I am disliked but I really don't have that impression, especially off-court," Djokovic said at his tennis academy in Belgrade. "Even if that was true, why would I want to add fuel to the fire?

"I don't want to stir up negative emotions. I have no ill feelings for people who don't support me. Having said that, I am not proud of my occasional reactions on the court as my passion gets the better of my self-control at times."

Djokovic conceded that there were places where he has less support than in others.

"It is a fact that most fans support Federer and Nadal against me but that's due to what they represent in world tennis," he added.

"It doesn't mean that fans hate me and it certainly doesn't mean that I need to turn Serbia against the rest of the world just because fewer people support me in Grand Slam finals."

Djokovic won his 17th Grand Slam title last month at his favorite hunting ground in Melbourne, where he captured his eighth Australian Open title amid vocal support from local Serb expatriates.

REUTERS

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