Novak Djokovic - Wimbledon 2023

Novak Djokovic lacking usual ‘animosity’ towards crowd in Turin, says analyst

Novak Djokovic looked to be entertaining the boos from the Italian crowd during his three set loss to Jannik Sinner in their thrilling ATP Finals match, but former British no.1 Tim Henman has noticed something different about the six-time champion on this occasion. 

The third night session in Turin saw home hope Sinner outplay the defending champ Djokovic over the course of three sets, eventually winning 7-5, 6-7, 7-6 to bolster his chances of qualifying for the knockout stages.

As he often does, however, Djokovic stole some of the headlines with the way he responded to the hostility of the Italian crowd – clearly rooting for Sinner – by playfully orchestrating some of the boos that he received throughout the match. 

The Serb that we are used to seeing probably would’ve reacted in a different way, retaliating or taunting audience members, but Henman believes that we are seeing a contrasting side to the world no.1. 

Following the match, Henman said: “Sometimes when Djokovic starts taking on a crowd it is with much more animosity than he showed here.

“Here, he looked like he was enjoying it. Maybe it is a reflection of him ending the year as world No 1 whatever. He was the conductor trying to orchestrate the crowd. 

“It seemed he was in good spirits, but he will be disappointed to lose this match.”

Novak Djokovic starting to relish the adversity? 

Former WTA world no.1 Justine Henin also believes that we are beginning to see a better side of the 24-time major champion since he has stopped worrying about getting the crowd on his side. 

Novak Djokovic has shown this attitude multiple times over the past few months, not just in his recent loss to Sinner. 

Henin said: “We know that it is not always pleasant to have the public who, all of a sudden, become hostile and support the opponent.

“And very intelligently, he cuts short what is happening and at the same time he remobilizes himself. He has a lot of experience at this level.

“But I still think that in relation to this question of the public, he is distancing himself more and more. He is no longer there to please [the public], he is there to play and win, and, I think, that by finally doing so, it still appeals to a lot of people.”

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Jerome Coombe, Tennishead Writer, discovered his love for tennis journalism whilst studying languages and playing competitive tennis. He has a vast knowledge of tennis and strives to shed a light on all corners of the sport.