Novak Djokovic gets brutally honest on how he feels about hostile crowds

Facing boos is something Djokovic is well-accustomed to.

by Dzevad Mesic
Novak Djokovic gets brutally honest on how he feels about hostile crowds
© Getty Images Sport - Daniel Pockett

Novak Djokovic confirms there are definitely moments when hostile crowds lit up the fire inside him but also highlights that remaining focused and doing what he needs to do is always the most important thing. 

Although Djokovic is a record 24-time Grand Slam champion and currently the most accomplished male player in tennis history, it is not a secret that for some reason he has never been a fan favorite around the world. With that being said, Djokovic - who turns 37 next week - has been well-adjusted to facing boos all over the world, including Grand Slams and the biggest tournaments in the world. 

But booing Djokovic hasn't proved to be a very effective method against the Serb as the record 24-time Grand Slam champion has a long history of winning matches when he is facing a tough opponent and a hostile crowd. And just in the last few years, Djokovic revealed that facing loud boos and probably being unfairly targeted in certain moments only makes him more motivated to win - which helps him. 

During a conversation with Nick Kyrgios on the Australian's podcast series, the world No. 1 was asked to address that topic. 

"I don’t know, it really depends. People think that I really thrive on that energy when somebody doesn’t like me or I’m facing adversity on and off the court," Djokovic said on Good Trouble with Nick Kyrgios.

"Sometimes I do because that’s the only thing I have in that moment. I have to find a solution. I have to find a way to win a tennis match and be who I am, be true to myself. I know that not everyone will like me. I know that people of course have their favorite players or maybe they want an underdog to win and things like that happen."

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic © Getty Images Sport - Daniel Pockett

Djokovic: Not every time you feel the same way

While crowds haven't been the best to Djokovic over the years, there have been times when the Serb also had the support on his side. And when making that clear, Djokovic highlighted that remaining focused and locked in every situation is usually the best thing. 

"I’ve been on the tour for so long and I’ve experienced some great atmospheres in my favor and great atmospheres against me. But I think in the end of the day, you really have to understand the moment, understand how you’re feeling because you’re not going to feel the same every single day," Djokovic said.

"There’s going to be days where you’re going to be distracted by what’s happening outside these lines and there’s going to be days you’re so locked in that whatever happens, whatever anybody says, you’re dialed in and you know exactly what you need to do as far as on-court goes."

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic © Getty Images Sport - Cameron Spencer

Djokovic does not want to beef with anyone

After everything that has happened over the last few years, the feeling is that Djokovic has never been more exposed to criticism and scrutiny. It all started during the pandemic, when Djokovic indicated that he wasn't willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine. That led to Djokovic getting some major criticism and scrutiny by the media and being declared "anti-vaxx" by some. 

Then in 2022 January, Djokovic faced more criticism and backlash during the Australia visa gate. 

For Djokovic, reading or hearing some negative things that have been said about him certainly hasn't been easy but he is not interested in beefing with the media or anyone else. 

"As far as off-court goes, obviously over the years I’ve learned the lessons in a hard way. Like sometimes when you respond to every article that you read or every single statement that somebody makes of you, it’s not going to get you far. It’s only going to piss you off and I don’t want to live in that kind of emotions," Djokovic explained.

During his conversation with Kyrgios, Djokovic concluded the topic by underlining that he is someone who wants to have a good relationship with people.

"I want to have a good relationship with people, I really care about this sport. I care about playing in front of people and making hopefully people happy with my tennis and that’s what it’s all about," Djokovic said.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic © Getty Images Sport - Elsa

Meanwhile, Djokovic was booed by the crowd after suffering a 2-6 3-6 defeat to Alejandro Tabilo in the Rome Masters third round. 

Following a shock Rome exit, Djokovic said he wasn't feeling his best during the entire match and he blamed that on getting hit in the head by a metal bottle two days earlier. When explaining what went wrong against Tabilo, Djokovic said he believed he was fine going into the match but his coordination and everything just wasn't there. 

But when asked if anything was different in his French Open aspirations, Djokovic said he would be going to Roland Garros with the same usual mindset.

Novak Djokovic