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Novak Djokovic Channels Wimbledon Crowd’s ‘Disrespect’ As Motivation In Pursuit Of Another Title


Novak Djokovic exemplifies a superstar athlete who finds motivation wherever possible, similar to Serena Williams, Michael Jordan, and Tom Brady.

For Djokovic, this motivation often stems from — or his perception of — crowds being against him. At Wimbledon, the 24-time Grand Slam champion believed that people in the stands were prolonging the pronunciation of his opponent’s last name to sound like they were booing. And Djokovic, to use a meme-generating phrase associated with Jordan, took that personally.

He took exception to the “disrespect” he perceived during his match at Centre Court on Monday night, moving a step closer to an eighth title at the All England Club.

This isn’t the first time Djokovic has been riled up by spectators cheering against him — he famously described pretending that chants of “Roger! Roger!” (as in Federer) were actually his own two-syllable name, “Novak! Novak!” — and it likely won’t be the last.

Djokovic, who will be back on Centre Court on Wednesday against Alex de Minaur, uses it as fuel.

As 2003 Wimbledon runner-up Mark Philippoussis described, Djokovic “wants to hear ‘boo,’ to be honest with you, because it makes him play better. If I were to play him, I’d just give him compliments on a change of ends.”

After his straight-set victory over Holger Rune — “Ruuuuuune!” sounds like “Boooooo!” — in the fourth round on Monday, Djokovic was asked whether there’s anything that could be done about over-the-top interjections from the seats.

He said he doesn’t think so and acknowledged that ticket-holders can support whichever player they want.

There are those who appreciate this element of the sport.

Another player sensitive to what was being said in the tournament’s main stadium on Monday was Alexander Zverev, the two-time major finalist who squandered a two-set lead and was beaten in five by Taylor Fritz.

When their match ended, Zverev complained to Fritz about things he heard coming from the American’s guest box — not his coaches, but from people “that are not maybe from the tennis world, that are not maybe [used to] watching every single match; they were a bit over the top.”

Unlike Djokovic, Zverev wasn’t able to enjoy getting the last word in the form of a victory.

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