Novak Djokovic comments on David Goffin incident, French Open banning alcohol

Djokovic shares his thoughts on the move made by the French Open after Goffin's claims.

by Dzevad Mesic
Novak Djokovic comments on David Goffin incident, French Open banning alcohol
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Mason

Novak Djokovic says he personally likes to see fans cheering and being engaged amid the French Open's decision to ban alcohol from stands but highlights that there are lines that a fan simply can't cross and therefore he thinks David Goffin didn't do anything wrong by standing up for himself and calling out a disrespectful crowd behavior.

As you probably already know well by now, former world No. 7 Goffin made all the headlines earlier this week when he claimed that the French crowd acted in "a totally disrespectful" way toward him during his first-round match against rising French star Giovanni Mpetshi-Perricard. While making his claim, Goffin also alleged that a drunk fan spat out chewing gum at him.

Since the story quickly became one of the biggest storylines of this year's French Open, it prompted a reaction from the tournament. And on Thursday, French Open tournament director Amelie Mauresmo shared during a press conference that they decided to ban alcohol from the stands. 

Also, Mauresmo revealed that chair umpires will be instructed to be harsher when dealing with such situations and to not hesitate to throw out a disrespectful spectator. When it comes to security staff on the court, they were instructed to try to pay even more attention when locating potential troublemakers.

Amelie Mauresmo
Amelie Mauresmo© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Djokovic on the French Open policy change

On the way when the French Open tournament announced new policy changes, Djokovic was in action as he defeated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4 6-1 6-2.

Later when asked about the Goffin incident and the reaction that followed, Djokovic - who is definitely no stranger to tense moments with the crowds - provided a detailed answer. 

“Look, they are very passionate fans. At times they are not easy, and I have been having some love affairs with the fans here, and also some tough matches, some tough seasons. I have experienced both sides. Obviously you always want to be the one that they support or at least have kind of a neutral atmosphere on the court, but it's not possible always for that to happen," Djokovic said.

"And in particular, cases when you're playing against a French player like Goffin did or like I did first round, that's where you have to just be aware that you're going into a big battle. Not just with your opponent. But in a sense, that's normal, because they of course do everything to support their own home favorites, their own countrymen and countrywoman to win, particularly if they are underdogs, you know.

"I know that in the outside courts I saw a little bit of highlights of Goffin's match and that they can be even more loud and inappropriate at times.

"It's part of what we do. It's part of sports. We are different from football or basketball, but at the same time, you know, you kind of want a good atmosphere, right, as a player. Like, from my standpoint, I really want to see fans cheering and I want to see that atmosphere."

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic© Getty Images Sport - Clive Mason

Djokovic: Wimbledon is different, I support Goffin

Of the four Grand Slams, Wimbledon is the Major which has the history and reputation of being "the classiest" and rarely a player experiences issues with the crowd there. While Djokovic says something like that is also nice to experience, he adds that it is also nice when a player experiences an engaged crowd singing and cheering.

Djokovic may be a fan of the crowd being engaged but he underlines that they always must keep it respectful. 

"Wimbledon is different. Obviously Wimbledon has its history and culture and tradition. But most of the other tournaments you really want to see fans cheering and chanting songs and stuff for the player or country. I think that's beautiful to experience," Djokovic added. 

"It’s a fine line when that line is passed, I guess, and when it starts becoming disrespectful towards the player. In those instances, I understand that a player like Goffin the other day reacted, because I have experienced quite a few times those particular situations.

"So I support a player standing up against people who are disrespecting and heckling him. It's not always possible to tolerate. Of course it's very much needed, because you don't want to be spending unnecessary energy elsewhere. But at times you just have to face somebody that is heckling you. That's all you can do (smiling).”

Meanwhile, defending French Open champion Djokovic plays against Lorenzo Musetti in the third round. Heading into the match, Djokovic is the favorite and owns a 4-1 head-to-head versus Musetti.

Novak Djokovic David Goffin French Open