Novak Djokovic demands fan get kicked out of Australian Open match after being heckled
Novak Djokovic has become accustomed to awkward spectators when he plays tennis. Alongside Nick Kyrgios, he is Public Enemy No. 1 among a number of fans.
And on Thursday, during the fourth set of his second-round match against Enzo Couacaud at the Australian Open, the situation boiled over when he complained to the chair umpire about the provocation he received from one group of fans in particular.
Djokovic’s serving routines were consistently disrupted by screams as he was taunted by fans in the audience.
“The man is drunk with his mind,” an angry Djokovic was heard to say to chairman umpire Fergus Murphy as he pointed to the fans in question.
“From the first moment he challenged me. He’s not here to watch tennis he just wants to get into my head, you’ve heard him at least 10 times, I’ve heard him 50 times.
“What are you going to do about it? Get him out of the stadium.”
The fans in question, dressed in red and white striped ‘Where’s Waldo?’ costumes, were escorted out of the stadium at the end of the match.
Last week, Craig Tiley, the head of Tennis Australia – the organizers of the Australian Open – told the Australian Herald Sun that people who unreasonably taunt Djokovic will be removed from the venues: “If they interfere with someone else’s enjoyment – boom, they’re out.
“We don’t want them on the spot… They can stay away or we’ll kick them out.”
Laura Robson, the former UK No. 1, said it was understandable that Djokovic was “frustrated” with the treatment he received from the public.
“I think everyone would be a little frustrated with that level of chatter,” Robson told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies. “And in a stadium like Rod Laver, you hear everything when you’re on the pitch.
“There is not a great distance between the people in the first few rows and the baseline. And so that was what he was doing point after point and in the end it took almost until the end of the game for them to be kicked out, but you can understand the frustration.”
The No. 4 seed had to battle crowd screams, a tough test from Couacaud and a lingering injury to come through with the 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-0 victory.
He has fought a hamstring injury suffered last week and during the second set, the Serbian star had a medical time-out in the dressing room to receive treatment for the problem area.
Despite losing the second set, the 35-year-old managed to rampage through the final two sets without much trouble on the pitch, with most of his trouble coming from the fans.
Djokovic’s complaints showed similarities with those of Kyrgios in last year’s Wimbledon final to Djokovic asking to kick a fan out of the stadium for constantly speaking to him during a match.
“She’s insanely drunk, so kick her out,” he said at the time. When asked by the umpire which supporter it was, Kyrgios gestured to the stands and said: “The one who looks like she’s had about 700 drinks.”
The spectator took legal action against Kyrgios and the two have since settled the matter.