Novak Djokovic has once again been forced to call out a heckler at Rod Laver Arena in the first set of his quarter-final clash against Andrey Rublev at the Australian Open. Djokovic is chasing unprecedented history at the Australian Open and got off to a flying start against the big-hitting Russian.
Rublev targeted Djokovic's backhand, but the Serbian remained steadfast and ended up winning the first set 6-1. However, there were two moments of worry for Djokovic in the first set.
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Halfway through the first set, Djokovic stopped play to address the chair umpire. The 21-time grand slam champion appeared to take aim at a member of the crowd who was heckling him between points.
Reports suggested the heckler said: "Come on Andrey, send him home." This sparked Djokovic to call for the chair umpire to act.
"Every single point, you're not reacting," Djokovic said to the chair umpire. Djokovic was fortunately able to put this behind him and focus on his opponent.
Djokovic is giving back to a heckler early doors.
"Why don't you shut up for once? Every single point. Every single point. [to umpire] You're not reacting."
Was also troubled by a persistent heckler in his last match.
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) January 25, 2023
Novak Djokovic is 4-1 up on Andrey Rublev but not happy with the crowd, one of whom is shouting "come on Andrey, send him home", which isn't on at all.#AusOpen
— James Gray (@jamesgraysport) January 25, 2023
Why would you heckle Djokovic?!
He's just gonna take it personally and play even better
— Jac (@JacCooper1) January 25, 2023
Djokovic also faced an injury scare in the opening set. Early in the first set against the Russian, Djokovic appeared to flinch after reaching for a ball.
Tennis greats-turned commentators Jim Courier and Lleyton Hewitt said Rublev would need to move Djokovic around if he is to take advantage of any limited movement. Regardless, Djokovic maintained his focus and was able to get an early break against Rublev to lead 3-1.
However, nothing was stopping the superhuman form of Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena as he reached his 44th grand slam semi-final and extended his run in Melbourne to 26 straight games. Djokovic was in imperious form once again as the big hitting Andrey Rublev had no answers for the Serbian's play.
The Serbian defeated Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 and ties Andre Agassi for the most consecutive wins for a male at Melbourne Park.
Novak Djokovic dealing with hecklers at Australian Open
This is not the first time Djokovic has needed to call for the chair umpire to intervene. During his second round clash in Melbourne, one fan in particular appeared to distract Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena.
The Serbian claimed one fan was “drunk out of his mind” after he was repeatedly heckled during the match. In ugly scenes, three men dressed up in 'Where's Wally?' costumes could be seen yelling and gesturing towards the Serb in between his first and second serves.
During one point in the third set, Djokovic was heard yelling towards that section of the stands: “Shut up! Thank you!”️ However, at 2-0 up in the fourth set, the Serb's patience had obviously run out as he complained to officials to do something about the rowdy fans.
The Serbian is on a 39-match unbeaten run in Australia. The 21-time grand slam champion has also secured a 10th semi-final appearance at the grand slam as he chases a 10th title and the chance to equal Rafa Nadal's tally of 22 majors. Rublev has appeared in six grand slam quarter-finals, including in Melbourne in 2021, but is yet to take the next step.
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