Home Sport Djokovic lets rip at fans after majestic performance

Djokovic lets rip at fans after majestic performance

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Irritated by the fans who greeted Rune’s occasional moments of brilliance with chants of ‘Ruuune!’, Novak Djokovic ranted: ‘To all those people that have chosen to disrespect the player, in this case me, have a goooooood night! Goooooood night! Goooooood night!’

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts during his fourth round match against Denmark’s Holger Rune. Picture: REUTERS, Isabel Infantes

Pritha Sarkar, in LONDON – Emotions ran high for Novak Djokovic on Monday as he angrily lashed out at Wimbledon fans following his three-set demolition job over young Dane Holger Rune in the fourth round, while it was game over for a previously indestructible Alexander Zverev.

After tentative performances in his two previous outings, seven-time champion Djokovic had appeared to be back to his best against Rune as he dished out a 6-3 6-4 6-2 masterclass to set up a quarter-final date with Australian Alex De Minaur.

But for the thousands of fans who had stuck around late into the night to watch the match under a closed Centre Court roof, it is unlikely their abiding memory from day eight of the championships will have anything to do with the dazzling backhands or forehands that were on show.

Instead, what they will remember is the astonishing words that flowed out of Djokovic’s mouth during a bizarre post-match interview, in which he accused the crowd of disrespecting him.

Irritated by the fans who greeted Rune’s occasional moments of brilliance with chants of “Ruuune!”, he ranted: “To all those people that have chosen to disrespect the player, in this case me, have a goooooood night! Goooooood night! Goooooood night!”

When the interviewer suggested the fans had merely been chanting his rival’s name, Djokovic disagreed.

“I don’t accept that, no, no, no. I know there they were cheering for Rune but that’s an excuse to also boo. 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,” he added pointing to the stands.

“I focus on respectful people that have respect that paid the ticket to come and watch tonight and love tennis and appreciate the players and the effort they’re putting in.

“I’ve played in much more hostile environments. Trust me, you guys, you guys can’t touch me.”

It was a strange way to end proceedings on Centre Court which had earlier witnessed world number four Zverev becoming the highest men’s seed to fall by the wayside. The German came unstuck against Taylor Fritz in a five-set thriller despite being only two games away from securing a place in the last eight for the first time.

ONE LEG

Like Djokovic, who had knee surgery last month, Zverev turned up on court wearing a protective support around his leg after falling awkwardly during his previous match.

That did not stop the German trading brutal blows with Fritz for 3-1/2 hours before he fell to a 4-6 6-7(4) 6-4 7-6(3) 6-3 defeat after he was finally broken for the first time at this year’s championships having chalked up 56 successive holds of serve.

Zverev regularly bombarded his American opponent with 130 mph missiles, fired down 19 thunderbolt aces, produced 55 winners and even won the longest rally in the contest which dragged on for 21 shots — and at the end of it all, the German declared he had been playing “on one leg”.

“It was fairly obvious that I wasn’t 100% today, right?” Zverev asked reporters before elaborating that an MRI scan had shown that he had a tear in his knee capsule as well as bone bruising.

“There wasn’t really long rallies because I couldn’t play long rallies. Credit to him that he came back but it wasn’t a great tennis match.”

The Fritz-Zverev marathon was the 35th match to go five sets at the All England Club this year, tying the record for the most at any slam since tennis turned professional in 1968.

Eastbourne champion Fritz’s victory also raised a glimmer of hope that the 21-year slam drought for American men might soon end after he joined Queen’s Club champion Tommy Paul in the last eight. For the first time since 2000, more than one American man will feature in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

It was not a good day for Frenchmen, however, as De Minaur beat Arthur Fils 6-2 6-4 4-6 6-3, while Italian Lorenzo Musetti set up a showdown with Fritz after gatecrashing Mpetshi Perricard’s 21st birthday celebrations with a 4-6 6-3 6-3 6-2 win.

Elena Rybakina, the only women’s Wimbledon champion left in the draw, got an easy ride after Anna Kalinskaya retired hurt while trailing 6-3 3-0. The Kazakh will face Elina Svitolina, who demolished Xinyu Wang 6-2 6-1.

The other quarter-final in the top half of the women’s draw will feature two players who have both triumphed at the French Open. Barbora Krejcikova beat Danielle Collins 7-5 6-3, while Jelena Ostapenko was a 6-2 6-3 winner over Yulia Putintseva.

Reuters

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