Novak Djokovic went into his Australian Open final against Dominic Thiem as a seven-time champion, yet he still couldn’t command the lion’s share of support at Melbourne Park.
The World No.2 got off to a scary start after breaking the Austrian in the second game, with many viewers fearing the 16-time grand slam champion was on the verge of a straight sets demolition.
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Support for the underdog was immense inside Rod Laver Arena and the Austrian gave them plenty to cheer about after grabbing his own break in the eighth game.
With the scores locked at 4-4, Djokovic's surgical opening to the grand slam decider was replaced with frustration as the increasingly pro-Thiem crowd’s voices grew louder.
At one point on serve, the Serbian’s anger bubbled over as he complained to the chair umpire about the rowdy fans.
Channel Nine callers Jim Courier and Todd Woodbridge both commented that the loudest cheers from within Rod Laver Arena were for Thiem, rather than the seven-time champion.
While that would no doubt have irked the Serb, Djokovic's real annoyance was with the crowd yelling out during his service motions.
At one point, the increasingly agitated World No.2 stopped to plead his case with the chair umpire, asking for fans to remain quiet while he was serving.
Many viewers took aim at the noisy crowd for disrespecting Djokovic, however others suggested he needed to accept the fact that Aussie fans loved to cheer for an underdog.
The blatant disrespect towards Djokovic is embarrassing.— TCTH (@hamsiktcth) February 2, 2020
Djokovic has never been a crowd favorite— Mel_ancholia (@Mel1612ancholia) February 2, 2020
If Djokovic loses this set best believe he’s gonna start lashing out at the crowd for making noise during points— jefe (@thatdude400) February 2, 2020
Djokovic putting the idiots in the crowd that are shouting out during the points in their place. Have no issue with any player doing that. Fools should know better.— JC 🎾. (@Joe__Tennis) February 2, 2020
Djokovic is the record holder at AO and crowd still loves thiem over him lmaooo https://t.co/pSNKvmjhO7— RF9 (@ghostrlder9) February 2, 2020
Commentators are putting too much stock in the lack of crowd support for Djokovic. This guy has one 7 #AusOpen without being the crowd favourite. He thrives in a hostile environment. He's like Antarctic moss.— cindy boo hoo (@royeastmankodak) February 2, 2020
Djokovic will hate this. Despite being a 7-time champion at Melbourne Park the crowd is massively pro-Thiem.#AusOpen— Phil Inn (@AFLsportsman) February 2, 2020
Djokovic really needs to get over the fact the crowd is going for Thiem. Cancel out the crowd and play his own game! Stop getting into semantics.. His carry on isn't helping, the crowd will turn even further against him. Crowds alot of the time go for the underdog so 🤷♀️— Coco (@SpenceCoco) February 2, 2020
Another biased anti Djokovic crowd— Takudzwa 🐃 (@ProphetTaku) February 2, 2020
I would say the constant tantrums from Djokovic over the years when the crowd is not supporting him probably speaks volumes, and how after so long he cannot understand this is beyond me.— Thomas Hickman (@TSHickman) February 2, 2020
Djokovic set up a break point at 5-4 on Thiem's serve and despite letting the initial chance slip, the Serb eventually clinched the opening set.
Thiem wouldn’t be bullied though and grabbed an early break of his own to start the second set in style.
The eighth game of the second set proved pivotal as Djokovic capitalised on a wayward backhand from Thiem to break back and square it up at 4-4.
Djokovic was then pinged for a time violation on his first serve while two break points down.
The Austrian made the most of the controversial call to claim the proceeding point and set up a chance to serve for the second set.
The fifth seed gave himself three chances to level it at one set all and made it count on the second as a rattled Djokovic sent a backhand groundstroke well wide.