Novak Djokovic no longer wants to ‘please the public,’ says former WTA star
Justine Henin believes that Novak Djokovic has become more popular since he stopped worrying about getting the crowd on side.
Djokovic has always had an enormous legion of loyal fans, although the wider audiences and more casual tennis fans have not always found him the easiest player to love.
Often during his career, that has appeared to bother the 24-time major winner. However, in recent months, including the Paris Masters last week, he projected a much more indifferent reaction to being on the receiving end of boos that he has previously.
That attitude, according to Henin, is actually increasing his appeal to the casual fan.
“We know that it is not always pleasant to have the public who, all of a sudden, become hostile and support the opponent,” Henin told Eurosport.
“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.”
Why is Novak Djokovic seen as unpopular?
Well, for a start, Novak Djokovic is not unpopular. He commands the love and adoration of literally millions of fans around the world, so his popularity is certainly assured.
When people claim Djokovic is unpopular, they generally mean in comparison to rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and even then it is more about the casual fans rather than anyone else.
For Djokovic himself, he believes it is mainly down to his singlemindedness. He has always coveted records and history rather than popularity and that, he believes, perhaps makes him less of a people pleaser than other players.
“I’m going for all possible records, all that I can break,” Djokovic said. “I’ve never had a problem saying that.
“And that’s why people don’t like me; I didn’t pretend to be someone – to say that it’s not my goal, and then to behave differently… I always tried to be in line with what I believe.”
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