Wimbledon ‘Darth Vader’ Novak Djokovic must be respected, says John McEnroe

Novak Djokovic of Serbia addresses the crowd on Centre Court wishing them a 'good night' following victory against Holger Rune of Denmark
Novak Djokovic slammed fans on Centre Court after his last match (Picture: Getty)

John McEnroe has urged the Wimbledon crowd to respect Novak Djokovic, who he has compared to fictional Star Wars sci-fi villain Darth Vader.

Djokovic was due for an awkward return to Centre Court today to face Alex de Minaur after things turned nasty at the end of his last win over Holger Rune, but the Australian pulled out at the last minute to hand the 37-year-old a walkover.

Some spectators had been slyly booing Djokovic against Rune and the Serbian angrily called them out for it in his on-court interview, insisting that he’d been disrespected.

The 24-time Grand Slam champion, who has won seven Wimbledon singles titles, then walked out of a BBC interview in 98 seconds when asked about the incident.

‘He’s been battling this for his whole career,’ McEnroe told the BBC. ‘Yes he feeds off negative energy. And yes I did feed off that at times. But I hated it in a way. Do you want people yelling against you hoping you’ll lose? Just because you’re so good they start pulling for the other guy for no reason other than you’re so good.

‘That’s the reason people go against him in my opinion. He’s like the Darth Vader compared to… look, there’s two of the greatest class acts we’ve ever seen play tennis. Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer.

‘Who can compare to them in terms of what they brought to the table and the way people love them? Nobody. And then this guy Djokovic has the nerve to come in and break into the party…

Novak Djokovic pictured wearing a Darth Vader mask at a match in Paris in 2012
Novak Djokovic wore a Darth Vader mask at a match in 2012 (Picture: Getty)
The all-time great enjoyed a training session with his children on Wednesday
The all-time great enjoyed a training session with his children on Wednesday (Picture: Getty)

‘So then it’s like ‘How about respecting me after all this?’ Think about this… here’s a guy who had surgery a month ago.

‘The odds were 10 or 20% that he’d even play this tournament. He’s thinking ‘I’m helping this tournament.’ Which he is. ‘Why don’t I get some love when I’m playing a guy who’s 15 in the world?’ Who hasn’t done a damn thing compared to him.

‘Yes there were maybe a handful of Danish people going ‘Rune’ and I get that people want to see a good match. We all wanna see a good match.

‘But you have to respect the greatness that you see. It’s easy to be the backseat driver and let it go.

‘But this is what he’s been dealing with for 10, 15, 20 years that people have been doing this. I admire the guts that he had to say it there. That takes something.

‘That’s in a way gonna put more people against him. He doesn’t deserve that at this stage. We need him and he’s been too great for our game in my opinion.’

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