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Novak Djokovic 'wants to be booed' as ex-Wimbledon star reacts to Serb's angry rant

Novak Djokovic wants to hear boos on court to motivate him, according to former Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis. And the Scud compared the Serbian’s outburst to John McEnroe’s infamous tantrums during his career.

The seven-time Wimbledon champion reached his 15th quarter-final at the All England Club by beating Holger Rune – but then vented his anger at some in the Centre Court crowd for their support of the Norwegian.

Fans were bellowing: “Ruuuune” but Djokovic insisted: “They were disrespecting me. I don’t accept it. I know they were cheering for Rune but that is also an excuse to boo.”

The 2003 finalist Philippoussis, who was backed by cheers of “Poooo” during his career, said: “I’ve heard Poo – not boo. I saw a little bit of what happened. I could see him on the change of ends doing something, and I was like: ‘Okay, something’s happening, someone’s p***ed him off,’ which is a bad idea.

“You don’t want to p*** off Novak! I think he wants to hear ‘boo’, to be honest with you, because it makes him play better. If I were to play him, I would just give him compliments on a change of ends.

“I don’t want to p*** that guy off, that’s for sure. The guy is a beast. I love to see that. It is part of what he brings to the tournament.

The Melbourne ace added: “Why does he need the boos? It is just something he uses to his advantage. I am not saying that he needs to. But sometimes you just see in his eyes, when he gets focussed and agitated for something, he goes to a different level mentally. He just clicks in and he uses that to play better.

“Like McEnroe, he argued and he would play better. I was someone who knew that if I argued, that I would play worse so I tried to stay as calm as possible. He uses that to his advantage.

“And he is not shy to say it. And I think that is why it is exciting and we enjoy watching him playing. We want players to be true to who they are and to be themselves.

“And that way we get to see their character and who they are. And you have to respect that. Back in my day, people 100 per cent said what they thought more.”

The Serb has been more ready to confront fans later in his career – and told British fans to “shut up” and “learn how to show respect” after his post-match interview at last year’s Davis Cup was drowned out by music.

He also shushed during his second round win over Scot Jacob Fearnley. “If there is one person who has earned it, it is him, right?” added the Aussie. Djokovic refused to back down on his criticism in his post-match press conference even after Rune had insisted fans were bellowing his name.

The Serbian said: “It’s just the way it is. It’s part of the sport. It’s actually one of the biggest reasons why we are here, why the tournament is so important historically and why we were globally recognised as tennis players, is because of the fans, because of the interest that they put into watching tennis matches, paying tickets, queuing to come.

“I respect that. I try to acknowledge that. I said that on the court. All the true tennis fans that respect players, of course, you’re going to support one player or the other. It’s obviously solely up too them. It’s fully understandable that they have the freedom to choose who they back in the match.

“But if somebody steps over the line, I react. That’s basically what it was. After the match I said what I said.”

Asked if the tournament or umpire should intervene, the world No.2 added: “Look, I don’t know what Wimbledon can really do about it. in those particular moments when it happens, the crowd paid their tickets.

“They have the right to be there and cheer the way they want to cheer. That’s absolutely something they choose how they behave or how they choose to support the player is really up to them.

“Yes, you could argue maybe a chair umpire or whoever can step in in certain moments and calm them down, but there’s not much you can do. You’re not going to take out the whole section of the crowd or stadium because they’re misbehaving or showing disrespect.”


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