Novak Djokovic defies injury amid 'disgraceful' scenes at Australian Open

A hamstring complaint wasn't the only drama Novak Djokovic had to overcome in his Australian Open win.

Seen here, Novak Djokovic complaining after being heckled by fans during his second round match at the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic complained after being heckled by fans during his second round match at the Australian Open. Pic: Getty

An injury-hampered Novak Djokovic has hit out at a number of Australian Open supporters after being heckled during his second round win over French qualifier Enzo Couacaud on Thursday night. The nine-time champion battled through the pain of a hamstring complaint - and the jeers - to book his spot in the third round with a 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-0 on Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic claimed one fan in particular was “drunk out of his mind” after the Serb 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.

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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.

Djokovic fumed: “The entire night, the entire night! You know, and what are you gonna do about it? “You know who it is... The guy is drunk out of his mind, from the first point he’s been provoking me. He’s not here to watch tennis, he just wants to get in my head.

“I’m asking you - what are you gonna do about it?” You heard him at least ten times. I heard him 50 times... Why don’t you get security, get him out of the stadium?”

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Eventually, security were seen escorting the three men in fancy dress costumes from the crowd, sparking cheers from other sections of the stands. Djokovic was beaming about the reception he got from Australian Open fans for his first match back at Melbourne Park, but he said after Thursday night's match that the disrespectful scenes left a bad taste in his mouth.

"Particularly one guy, you heard his voice various times tonight, was insulting me and provoking me and saying things that were not respectful at all," Djokovic said.

"I tolerated for over one-and-a-half hours, almost two hours. I was giving signs to the chair umpire, looking at the chair umpire looking at the guy.

"I think the chair umpire, supervisor, whoever is responsible for handling the crowd, should have done a bit more." Djokovic said he feared he would now look like a "bad guy" because it was his complaint that led to the spectators being kicked out.

Pictured here, a group of fans in fancy dress were ejected late on in the Djokovic match.
A group of fans in fancy dress were ejected late on in the Djokovic match. Pic: Getty

Novak Djokovic brushes off injury to advance

The ugly crowd scenes were the least of Djokovic's worries, with the hamstring injury that the 21-time champion carried into the tournament, forcing him to go off for medical treatment at 4-4 in the second set. The Serb returned with tighter strapping across his left leg, before eventually losing the second set in a tiebreak.

Djokovic found another gear after that setback in the second set, wrapping up the next two and the match in dominant fashion. In a worrying reveal after the match, however, the 35-year-old revealed that he is "worried" about the injury that has forced him to forgo practice sessions before his matches.

The Serb said he will not practice before his next match against Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov on Saturday, instead focusing on rehabilitating an injury that flared up in Adelaide earlier this month.

"I am worried. I mean, I cannot say that I'm not. I have reason to be worried," Djokovic revealed after the match. "But at the same time I have to accept the circumstances and try to adjust myself with my team.

Seen here, Serbia's Novak Djokovic adjusts his bandage as he competes against France's Enzo Couacaud in the second round of the Australian Open.
Serbia's Novak Djokovic adjusts his bandage as he competes against France's Enzo Couacaud in the second round of the Australian Open. Pic: Getty

"My physio and medical team has been doing everything possible so that I can be able to play every match. There's not much more to talk about. There's two choices, leave it or keep going, so I'm going to keep going.

"I'm going to try to play and compete with, of course, a great player Dimitrov in a couple days' time."

Djokovic overcame a torn abdominal muscle to win his ninth Open title on his most recent appearance at Melbourne Park, in 2021. "Somehow I pushed it through and won the tournament but it's different now, obviously," Djokovic said.

"I don't know how my body's going to react. I hope for the best. I hope for the positive outcome. I'll take it day by day, match by match, and see how it goes."

with AAP

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