Novak Djokovic feeds off the negative energy towards him – John McEnroe

Djokovic has been jeered when he walked on court and his name booed during the French Open.

By Press Association Published: 30 May 2022 - 4.30pm

John McEnroe has warned the French Open fans that booing Novak Djokovic will only spur him on when he plays crowd favourite Rafael Nadal on Tuesday night.

World number one and defending champion Djokovic was jeered when he walked on to court before his fourth-round match against Diego Schwartzman.

His name was also booed when mentioned during 13-time champion Nadal’s on-court interview following his five-set victory over Felix Augur-Aliassime, which set up the box-office quarter-final and a 59th meeting of the heavyweights of the sport.

McEnroe, who was no stranger to getting on the wrong side of the crowd during his playing days, believes Djokovic is the best ever at feeding off the negative energy towards him.

France Tennis French Open
Rafael Nadal is the crowd favourite at Roland Garros (Christophe Ena/AP)

“He does it better than anyone I’ve ever seen,” said Eurosport pundit McEnroe.

“I didn’t do it as well. I felt like it affected me more than it helped me. I think there were times where it fuelled me, but he has done it consistently. He’s a remarkable player and person.”

McEnroe’s brattish behaviour on his way to seven grand slam titles in the 1980s usually earned him the ire of the crowd but he is at a loss to explain why Djokovic, who has never received the same levels of adoration heaped upon Nadal and Roger Federer, is being heckled so much this year.

“He’s been wanting to be respected at that same level, and that sort of fuels him but I think it’s unfair, personally,” added the American. “It’s just something that I can’t explain. I don’t know what it is, honestly.

“He deserves to be – and he is – respected. It’s just that I’m sure it’s frustrating. I think at the end of the day they will like him more after he stopped playing which sort of ended up being the case with myself, I guess.

“But at the time, it’s frustrating. Some of it can be at times your own fault, but I think quite a bit of it isn’t. It’s just that these other guys are so amazing.

Wimbledon 2016 – Day Three – The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Eurosport expert John McEnroe won seven grand slam titles (Steve Paston/PA)

“The way Rafa and Roger handle themselves, it’s hard to get to that level. Plus they were succeeding before him, so he’s been catching up the whole time.

“But he actually shows a lot of emotion, he’s fired up. People should love that and the French, they love that. I can’t explain it.”

Djokovic landed the first blow in the hotly-anticipated meeting on Monday after Roland Garros chiefs predictably chose it as the night match, whereas Nadal wanted to play in the day.

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