Tennis icons slam ATP Finals crowd over Djokovic treatment during Federer loss

A number of former tennis stars have slammed the ATP Finals crowd over their treatment of Novak Djokovic during his defeat to Roger Federer.

Djokovic’s hopes of winning the ATP Finals for a sixth time and end the year as world number one were ended on Thursday evening as he suffered a 3-6 4-6 defeat to a revitalised Federer.

Federer produced a brilliant performance at the O2 Arena in London to down his great rival and advance to the semi-finals of the season-ending event.

But a number of former stars have criticised the partisan ATP Finals crowd after several Djokovic mistakes were greeted by cheers and applause.

Speaking after the match, former British number one Greg Rusedski told Amazon: ‘I think it’s disrespectful when you’re clapping double faults. That’s too much.

‘I don’t mind fans supporting one guy over the other – that’s your choice – but there’s a certain etiquette you have to have out there.

‘That really got into Djokovic’s head because he double faulted, some of the crowd applauded and he double faulted again. Then he got broken and from that point on he was always behind in the match.

‘He never recovered. He gets too hard a time sometimes.’

Another former British number one, Annabel Croft, added: ‘I felt sad for Novak tonight. Here is a great, great champion. Someone who has achieved so much in the game.

‘What does he have to do to get a crowd on his side? He was playing some beautiful tennis and it was just met by polite applause.

‘Some of his double faults were being clapped and cheered. It looked to me like he became very subdued and went into his shell after that.

‘He couldn’t fire himself up. I did feel a tinge of sadness for him because he looked a little lost out here and it can’t be easy when you’re taking on 20,000 people.’

The former Australian Open semi-finalist, Daniela Hantuchova, also criticised the treatment of Djokovic and said it was one of the reasons the Serbian legend was unable to hit back at Federer during a difficult defeat.

‘I almost felt sorry for him as well because he’s done so much for our game,’ she said. ‘What else does he need to do to get respect from this crowd?

‘I think it got to his head a little bit. He didn’t even wave as he went off and that’s understandable. It’s not pleasant when someone claps your double faults so I can understand his frustration.

‘After everything he’s done it’s a little bit disrespectful. Roger is Roger but at the same time Novak is Novak so maybe a more even crowd would have been ideal tonight.’

Djokovic, meanwhile, played down the importance of the crowd on his defeat to Federer in his post-match press conference.

‘Look, it was an important match, and I think every time I face Roger or Rafa anywhere in the world, there’s a lot of excitement,’ he said.

‘So it was a full stadium, which was nice to see. It was loud. It was electric. You know, it was a good atmosphere.’

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