Novak Djokovic has beaten Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and now John McEnroe has ruled out the nine-time champion.
While Djokovic was welcomed by most fans in Melbourne when he returned to Australia last year due to the Covid vaccine situation, he was dogged by persistent critics in the crowd.
Looking to get under Djokovic’s skin, Djokovic was quick to address his detractors in the crowd, umpire James Keothavong, who is believed to have urged Rublev to “send him home”.
However, the offense seemed to motivate the Serbian, who produced a clinical performance to see off Rublev 6-1 6-2 6-4.
“If someone goes over the line and starts making comments that are not related to the support of the other player, he wants to annoy and insult,” Djokovic said after the match.
“Maybe the first time, maybe not the second time, but after that, yes. Then I ask the chair judge to respond.
“I heard him afterwards but he was supporting Rublev. He didn’t make any bad comments until the end of the game so I had no complaints.
Djokovic’s arch-rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal rarely face such abuse from the stadium and tennis legend John McEnroe believes the reigning Australian Open champion deserves more respect from fans around the world.
“He deserves more credit in my book,” McEnroe said at the Australian Open, his live and solo tournament. Discovery+ and Eurosport
“We’re really talking about two of the most talented class acts the game has ever seen in Roger and Rafa.
“For me, Roger is the most beautiful player I’ve ever seen play and Rafa’s strength is great, but Novak has done a great job of getting into the mix and maybe going through both at the same time.
“His playing is technically strong and sometimes taken for granted. His strength and mental strength is amazing.
“He’s four or five years younger than Roger and he had that mantle when Novak broke on the scene. It’s hard to get rid of him at that point.
“Novak is a much better player than me, but I felt that when I was trying to get into the era with (Jimmy) Connors and (Bjorn) Borg.
“I feel like he’s getting more respect as time goes on.”
Djokovic suffered a hamstring injury at this year’s Australian Open but has been playing with it in recent days, but the problem seems to have improved.
That prompted some critics to say the former world No. 1 was exaggerating the extent of the problem and McEnroe admitted the injury was a mystery.
McEnroe rules out muscle soreness after Djokovic wins Australian Open
“I’m not sure what to do,” McEnroe said of Djokovic’s hamstring problem.
“He had an injury two years ago and won the race.
The other night he looked fantastic on Alex D Minaur.
He’s got a great team around him working 24 hours a day to prepare him and it looks like a sore leg…hard to say it’s hurting him at all.
“It didn’t seem to affect him in the last match and it didn’t seem to affect him in the others.
“If he is playing at the level we saw with De Minaur, I expect him to win the tournament.
“After everything that happened last year, it’s good to see him out there and competing again.”
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