“They can do whatever they want, but I’m going to respond to that,” world No. 1 said of vocal feud with British Davis Cup fans.
By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Thursday, November 23, 2023
Novak Djokovic has a message for disrespectul Davis Cup noise-makers: Go celebrate silent night.
The world No. 1 dispatched Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-4 and muted vocal British fans clinching Serbia’s 2-0 triumph over Great Britain and return to the Davis Cup semifinals.
Traditionally, Davis Cup spikes fan passion like no other competition and while players accept vocal crowds are part of the Davis Cup environment, Djokovic said some British fans crossed the line to “disrespect” in today’s quarterfinal in Malaga, Spain.
Djokovic, who said said he felt some fans were using noise pollution to try to disrupt him, feuded with some fans, put his hand behind his ear at times as if exhorting the crowd to make more noise and ultimately invoked the last word scoring his 21st consecutive Davis Cup singles victory.
Afterward, Djokovic said if fans get unruly and loud with him, he will amp up the intensity and answer.
“[They were noisy] the entire match pretty much. Disrespect, but again, that’s something I’m kind of have to be prepared for,” Djokovic told the media in Malaga. “You know, in the Davis Cup, it’s normal that sometimes fans step over the line, but, you know, in the heat of the moment, you react too, and you, in a way, how can I say, show that you don’t allow this kind of behavior.
“They can do whatever they want, but I’m going to respond to that. That’s what happened. And in the end, for whoever was there, you saw, I was trying to talk and they were purposely starting to play the drums so that I don’t talk and they were trying to annoy me the entire match.
“So, yeah, we had a little bit of a chat in the end.”
It could get even louder in Saturday’s semifinals against Jannik Sinner and Team Italy.
World No. 4 Sinner and Djokovic will face off for the third time in 11 days.
Nine days ago in ATP Finals round-robin play, Sinner slammed down a smash punctuating a thrilling 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-6(2) Turin triumph over Djokovic snapping the Serbian superstar’s 19-match winning streak and scoring his second career victory over a world No. 1.
Prior to serving at 5-6 in the decider, Djokovic sat on his court-side seat waving his arms like a classic conductor orchestrating Italian fans as they cheered for Sinner.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 14, 2023
The top-seeded Serbian silenced both Italian fans and the booming game of Sinner scoring a 6-3, 6-3 sweep in the ATP Finals championship match last Sunday. Djokovic, who speaks fluent Italian, expects Sinner and Italian fans to bring the noise on Saturday.
“It’s going to be great, I think, for tennis fans and for both Italian sports tennis fans and Serbia, and here also in Malaga,” Djokovic said of facing Sinner again. “We’re kind of developing a nice rivalry lately. You know, I have tons of respect for him.
“He’s been playing arguably the tennis of his life. I saw a little bit of singles and doubles that he won today. Amazing. Really played on a high level. I could see that he was very pumped to play for his nation. It was impressive the way they turned it around from 0-1.
“Obviously Davis Cup is kind of a format and competition where it doesn’t only depend solely on you. So that match could decide a winner of the whole tie, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will.
“You know, I think the two matches that we had against each other in Torino will serve and help to both of us in our preparation for Saturday.”
Photo credit: Fran Santiago/Getty for ITF