Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon 2021
Former British tennis player Annabel Croft recently gave her thoughts on the lack of support Novak Djokovic gets from crowds during many of his matches. According to Croft, it is “painful to watch” the Serb having to battle hostile crowds every time he steps out on the court.
Djokovic is aiming to become the first man since Rod Laver (in 1969) to complete the Calendar Slam. The Serb can achieve the feat by winning the US Open next month, having already triumphed at the Australian Open, Roland Garros, and Wimbledon.
But despite his achievements on the court, the 34-year-old Serb has never enjoyed the same amount of support as Federer and Nadal.
Former player and analyst Annabel Croft said the treatment meted out to Djokovic by the crowds was “cruel” at times. The Brit brought up the example of the 2015 US Open match between Federer and Djokovic to highlight her point. According to Croft, the crowd cheered Djokovic’s misses, while his winners were met with silence.
“It has been painful to watch at times and I remember being at the US Open in 2015 when Novak was playing Federer and the entire crowd seemed to be against him,” Croft told Tennis365. “There was silence when he hit a winner and cheers when he missed and the courage he showed to win that match was remarkable.””I was court-side and couldn’t believe that there were 20,000 people baying for his blood and hoping he would lose. It is cruel in many ways,” she added.
Croft went on to praise Djokovic for his ability to deal with hostile crowds.
“This was like watching a gladiator out there getting torn to shreds by the crowd. It sends shivers down my spine recalling what it felt like and he didn’t flinch. He was so well prepared emotionally to deal with that, it was so impressive,” she said.
Novak Djokovic already holds most of the notable records in men’s tennis. The Serb is the only man to win each Major and Masters 1000 event twice, and has spent the most weeks at World No. 1
By completing the Calendar Slam and moving ahead of Federer and Nadal in the Slam race, Djokovic will seal his status as the greatest player of all time. Croft, a former British No. 1 herself, believes Djokovic deserves a lot more adulation and respect for what he has achieved.
“I hope he eventually gets the adulation and love that he is deserving of given his achievements in the game,” Croft said.
The Brit then went on to compare Novak Djokovic to John McEnroe, who was extremely unpopular with crowds due to his temper and antics on the court.
According to Croft, McEnroe eventually got the respect he deserved despite being the “baddie of the sport.” Croft feels that could be the case with Djokovic as well.
“Having grown up in the [John] McEnroe era and he was so unpopular in the 1980s. He was vilified as the real baddie of the sport,” she said. “He dominated the headlines for being brattish and someone said to me at the time that in due course, he will get the love and I think that can also happen with Djokovic.”
The Big 3 are incredible individuals, but Novak Djokovic is “so interesting”: Croft
Novak Djokovic at the 2020 Australian Open
Annabel Croft also spoke about her experiences interacting with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic as a member of the media. The Brit claimed that out of the three, the Serb is the most fascinating to talk to.
“All three are incredible individuals, but when I interview Djokovic, I find him so interesting,” she said. “He is so intellectual, his command of the English language is so impressive and he has a thirst for information.””He goes the extra mile to find out information about his heart, his lungs, his food intake, his sleep patters…. he is the ultimate professional athlete. I can’t say enough about him and it saddens me that he does not get the support he deserves,” Croft added.
Croft concluded by saying she hopes Djokovic gets the credit he deserves once he retires.
“Nobody is going to abandon their love of Federer and Nadal, but maybe when they hang up their rackets, people will appreciate what he (Djokovic) has done in the sport,” she said.