Novak Djokovic has hit out at tennis officials for not acting quicker to remove “drunk” Australian Open fans and making him “look like the bad guy”.
Djokovic battled hecklers and his troublesome hamstring in a four-set win against World No. 191 Enzo Couacaud on Thursday night.
After enjoying a love-in at his first round match, Djokovic was targeted by a group of spectators wearing Where’s Wally costumes and eventually snapped in the fourth set — demanding they were kicked out.
“He’s been provoking all night, the entire night, the entire night — what are you going to do about it?” Djokovic complained to the umpire.
“What are you going to do about it? What?”
After giving the umpire a chance to speak, Djokovic continued: “You’re kidding me, you know who it is. The guy’s drunk out of his mind. From the first point he’s been provoking. He’s not here to watch tennis. He just wants to get in my head. So I’m asking you, what are you going to do about it? You’ve heard him at least 10 times — I’ve heard him 50 times. What are you going to do about it?
“Why not? Why don’t you get security guards and get him out of the stadium?”
Watch Tennis Live with beIN SPORTS on Kayo. Live Coverage of ATP + WTA Tour Tournaments including Every Finals Match. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
The cameras soon found the man who blew kisses to the Serbian star.
A security guard did intervene, sitting in front of the men.
However, after continued interruptions they were escorted from the stadium.
The question in the commentary box was whether they had said something over the top to provoke the response from Djokovic.
Speaking in his press conference about the incident, Djokovic said “the super majority of people are always respectful”.
“What I have a problem with is when somebody‘s crossing the line – numerous times. From the very beginning, guys that were under the influence of alcohol, it was obvious, and I was grabbing my towel very close to them, particularly one guy, you heard his voice various times tonight, was insulting me and provoking me and saying things that were not respectful at all.”
Djokovic added that the chair umpire should have done more to stamp out the bad behaviour from the fan.
“It’s just unnecessary because why should we as players be put in a position where we have to always react when it‘s been two hours. It’s not been 10 minutes. This is what I mind, and this is why I felt the need to go out there because I had enough, you know?
“I can tolerate five, six times somebody telling me something, but there is a limit. That limit was crossed, and I stepped in and I asked the chair umpire, is he going to do something about it or not? He did, and I thanked him.”
After the interruption Djokovic quickly finished the match, winning 6-1 6-7 6-2 6-0.
But he may have more to think about, revealing his hamstring was troubling him.
“A little bit of everything tonight, just glad to get through this kind of match,” he said.
“To be honest, it (the hamstring) is not good at all to be honest. I’ll take it day to day, it was better feeling last match. That’s all I can say, now it’s really up to God to help me, and physio and everyone. Let’s take it day by day, hopefully I will be able to recover and be ready for a tough match up next match.”