9-time Australian Open champion and 3-time defending champion at the 2022 Australian Open, Novak Djokovic had to watch two of his rivals play out the finals in Melbourne Park while he was at his home having been deported from the country and banned for three years from entering the country.
Djokovic’s name remained a sensitive topic in Australia throughout the course of the tournament and the one person who bore the brunt of it the most was World No. 2 and runner-up at the tournament, Daniil Medvedev. Medvedev first mentioned the name of the Serbian when he came from 2-sets down and saved a match point to defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals.
During the post-match on-court interview, Medvedev had said, “I thought what would Novak do,” and the comment did not sit well with the crowd who booed the Russian. Medvedev continued to get jeers and it was visible even during the finals right from the moment he stepped on the court. He was involved in a verbal altercation as well with the chair umpire in the finals due to the crowd disturbing him during his service.
Medvedev did not appreciate the reception he received and believed he had not done anything to get such. He addressed this in his press conference after the final where he said, “The kid inside him had died,” and he was ready to miss a Grand Slam for playing in a tournament in Russia as he is now focused only on playing for his livelihood and the Russian people who have supported him.
“I relate to that. We texted after the match. I really felt sad that Daniil was experiencing that kind of emotion. Because the inner kid is the reason why we are playing tennis. At least in my case, and I think in his case. Most of the players pick up the racquet when they are young because they fell in love with the sport. Losing and being two sets to love up in the finals is a tough one to swallow. I’ve been in those shoes before and I understand how he feels,” said Djokovic after his round 1 win at the 2022 Dubai Championships.
“Daniil Medvedev is soon to be No. 1 in the world”: Novak Djokovic
Novak has been in similar situations where the crowd has not favoured him and that has made him one of the strongest players mentally to battle not only the opponent but also the pressure from the crowd and yet the 20-time Grand Slam champion has managed to be one of the greatest players of all-time in the history of the sport.
“I had many matches where I had the crowd on my side and many where the crowd was against me. This is part of the sport and you cannot always expect to have the support behind you. Sometimes, you just wish things to be different. I wish him all the best. He’s a great champion – someone that is mentally very strong and consistent with his results and soon to be No 1 in the world as well. I felt sorry for him that he commented the way he did after the match but I do understand,” added Novak further during his press conference in Dubai.
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