Novak Djokovic knows that many times he walks out on a court for a match he is going to have the crowd root against him. This could be for many reasons. Maybe there are a bunch of fans who like either Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer more and cannot seem to find their way to understand a fan can like more than one player. Or maybe, as was the case on Wednesday, Djokovic is playing an opponent in front of their home country.
Djokovic's opponent in the second round of the Australian Open was Aussie Alexei Popyrin. As expected, the tennis fans watching in the arena were nearly fully behind Popyrin. Djokovic does not mind this, though, and often uses the hate directed his way as fuel to play even better. But a fan on Wednesday crossed the line.
During the fourth set, Djokovic walked to the back corner of the court and began yelling at a fan. But he was not just telling the fan to be quiet. Djokovic challenged the spectator to come down to the court and say whatever the fan was saying to Djokovic's face. Post-match, Djokovic said he "was asking (the heckler), 'If you have courage, if you're such a tough man, tough guy, come down and tell it to my face, and let's have a discussion about it."
Novak Djokovic refuses to say what a heckler was yelling at him during second round match
Djokovic said the heckling had gone on for most of the match from a couple of areas of the stadium, but especially from the heckler he yelled at. The Serb did not want to disclose what the spectator was saying to him other than we would not want to know.
One might ask, however, if Novak Djokovic did the right thing. He might have gone to the chair umpire and asked to have the fan removed, though maybe he thought this would make him look weak. The problem is that the way the world is now, one never knows if a fan might actually attack a player as happened to Monica Seles in 1993.
Djokovic did go on to defeat Popyrin in four sets 6-3 4-6 7-6(4) 6-3. He will next play Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the third round. If Djokovic beats Etcheverry in straight sets that will be the first time 10-time Australian Open winner Djokovic has won a match in straight sets at the 2024 Australian Open