John McEnroe has defended Novak Djokovic after the Serbian was booed at the French Open, claiming the 20-time Grand Slam champion is a “class act” and that the reception he was subjected to in Paris was “outrageous”. Djokovic has praised the crowd at Wimbledon and admitted that he was surprised at the positive reception he received at SW19.
Speaking to Sue Barker and Billie Jean King, McEnroe came to Djokovic’s defence in regards to the boos at Roland Garros. “He deserves the love,” McEnroe said on the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage. “To me, he has been a class act and has added a lot to our game. It’s a lot to live up to Rafa [Nadal] and Roger [Federer].
“He was [booed at the French Open] but I don’t even want to talk about that because it was so outrageous for me. It has been a horrible year for the most part in ways that we have talked about, it’s terrible.”
Djokovic will hope to close the gap to Rafael Nadal in the quest for the most Grand Slams of all time, with the Serbian just two behind the man aiming for a Calendar Slam this year and Jean King believes that Djokovic “may end up being the greatest ever so far”.
McEnroe admitted that the question is less clear than it has been previously. He said: “The jury is more out than we thought it was when it was the final of the [US] Open and we thought he was going to win the Grand Slam.”
Djokovic could have moved clear of both Nadal and Roger Federer in the all-time Major wins last year in New York, but was defeated 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 by Daniil Medvedev and then Nadal went on to win in both Australia and France. The 35-year-old was jeered by some of the crowd at the French Open during his fourth-round victory over Diego Shwartzman.
He received a much warmer reception at Wimbledon though, which he admitted he did not expect. “I was very pleasantly surprised, I mean, in a positive way. I felt support,” Djokovic said after his first-round win over Kwon Soon-woo. “I thought they were very fair to me. I enjoyed my time very much on the court.
I’ve experienced something that I’ve never experienced in my life in Australia. So this post-Australian period of [the] next several months was challenging emotionally for me.
“The sensation of coming back on the court with everything that happened post-Australia, particularly [the] first few tournaments, was a different feel. Not very pleasant to me. [But] in terms of my motivation on the court, it hasn’t changed much, to be honest. Right now, I don’t feel the traces of that anymore. I move on.”