Novak Djokovic clashes with British fans after leading Serbia to Davis Cup win

By Sports Desk November 23, 2023

Novak Djokovic told rowdy British fans to “shut up” after leading Serbia to a 2-0 victory in the Davis Cup quarter-finals in Malaga.

The world number one showed his annoyance with a section of the 5,000-strong British support by cupping his ear and blowing ironic kisses at the end of the first set of his 6-4 6-4 victory over Cameron Norrie.

When the same group of fans began drumming during Djokovic’s on-court interview, the Serbian responded: “Learn how to respect players, learn how to behave yourself,” before adding, “no, you shut up, you be quiet”.

It was a sour end to what was a disappointing evening for Britain, with the writing on the wall once Jack Draper fell to a 7-6 (2) 7-6 (6) defeat by Miomir Kecmanovic in a opening rubber that was a must-win.

On his spat with the supporters, Djokovic said: “In the Davis Cup, it’s normal that sometimes fans step over the line but, in the heat of the moment, you react too, and you show that you don’t allow this kind of behaviour.

“They can do whatever they want, but I’m going to respond to that. I was trying to talk and they were purposely starting to play the drums so that I don’t talk and they were trying to annoy me the entire match. So we had a little bit of a chat in the end.”

Britain’s dramatic success against France in Manchester in September had sent them through to the final eight event for the first time in the revamped format.

The tie did not get under way until 6.10pm, more than two hours later than billed, because of the over-running first match of the day between Italy and the Netherlands.

The near-capacity crowd, which also included a sizeable number of Serbian supporters, gave the event the sort of authentic Davis Cup feel that has so often been missing since the switch from the home-and-away format.

Among those sat in the stands at the Palacio de Deportes Martin Carpena was Dan Evans, who had hoped to build on his brilliant performances in Manchester before a calf injury prematurely ended his season.

But even the British number two would have had his work cut out against an inspired Kecmanovic, who was chosen ahead of the higher-ranked Laslo Djere and fully justified the decision.

Draper had the better form coming in having reached his first ATP Tour final this month and had beaten Kecmanovic – ranked five places higher at 55 – earlier this year, but the Serbian was dominant on serve and edged two tie-breaks.

It was only the 21-year-old’s second Davis Cup rubber and he admitted knowing Djokovic was looming added to the nerves he felt.

“That’s seemingly a must-win match for me,” said Draper. “It’s definitely a tough challenge to go out there knowing that there is a lot more pressure on me to win the match.

“That’s the kind of pressure that, if I want to be a top player, I have to cope with and have to perform under. It’s tough not to get the win today. I gave it all I had mentally. I didn’t do a few things as well as I wanted to, but he played a great match.”

Djokovic had lost only six of his 61 previous matches this season, with just one defeat since the Wimbledon final, while his Davis Cup record is utterly formidable.

It is 12 years since he lost a singles match in the competition, and even that was by retirement, with now 21 straight wins and only four sets dropped.

Norrie had managed only a single set in three previous meetings and has endured a miserable run since the clay-court swing back in the spring, but he was captain Leon Smith’s only option once Andy Murray pulled out with a minor shoulder injury.

He did not put in a bad performance by any means, but was fire-fighting from the moment he was broken at 2-2 in the opening set and won only eight points on Djokovic’s serve during the contest.

While Serbia are a step closer to the trophy, Britain must start again in February in the qualifiers – barring an unlikely wild card through to September’s group stage.

Related items

  • Novak Djokovic downs 2023 conqueror Lorenzo Musetti to advance in Monte Carlo Novak Djokovic downs 2023 conqueror Lorenzo Musetti to advance in Monte Carlo

    World number one Novak Djokovic stormed past Lorenzo Musetti to reach the quarter-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters.

    The 36-year-old lost to the Italian in the same competition a year ago but made no mistakes this time around to secure his place in the last eight with a 7-5 6-3 victory.

    Djokovic said he does not think he is at his “top level” but is now set to face Alex de Minaur for a semi-final berth.

    The Australian assured himself of a clash with Djokovic after a comfortable 6-3 6-4 victory over compatriot Alexei Popyrin.

    Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev was beaten 6-3 7-5 by Karen Khachanov to end a rocky week in Monaco a day on from being asked by an umpire not to shout at a line judge.

    Khachanov’s reward is a quarter-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Greek having overcome Alexander Zverev 7-5 7-5 (3).

    Second seed Jannik Sinner cruised through with a 6-4 6-2 over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

    That sets up a quarter-final tie with Holger Rune, who came through both his round of 32 and round of 16 games on Thursday across six sets.

    Firstly, he beat qualifier Sumit Nagal 6-3 3-6 6-2 before moving on to a three-and-a-half-hour clash with Grigor Dimitrov which he eventually won 7-6 (9) 3-6 7-6 (2).

    Friday’s upcoming schedule was completed as Casper Ruud beat Hubert Hurkacz 6-4 6-2 and will meet Ugo Humbert who recovered from a set down to beat Lorenzo Sonego 7-5 6-3 6-1.

  • Emma Raducanu faces Caroline Garcia on return to Billie Jean King Cup Emma Raducanu faces Caroline Garcia on return to Billie Jean King Cup

    Emma Raducanu will take on Caroline Garcia on Friday in her first match for Great Britain in two years.

    The former US Open champion is available to Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup captain Anne Keothavong for the tie against France for the first time since making her debut in April 2022.

    On that occasion, Raducanu won her first senior match on clay against Tereza Martincova of the Czech Republic before losing heavily to Marketa Vondrousova in a tie Britain ultimately lost 3-2.

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Emma. (@emmaraducanu)

    They are back on clay just across the Channel in Le Portel on Friday and Saturday, and Keothavong is likely to need Raducanu to win at least one match if Britain are to spring a surprise and reach the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in November.

    Having pulled out of the Miami Open last month with a minor back issue, Raducanu will play her first match since an encouraging showing in Indian Wells ended in a competitive third-round loss to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka.

    She has met world number 23 Garcia twice before, beating her in Indian Wells in 2022 then losing at Wimbledon in the same year, but this will be their first match on clay.

    Raducanu has played only one match on the surface in nearly two years, and she told reporters in France: “I’ve not spent so much time on clay over the past few years.

    “It was interesting at the beginning but I think I learned pretty quickly. I’m starting to feel a lot better on the surface. I think in the future it’s going to be a surface that actually suits me. I’m maybe a little bit away from that right now but I’m enjoying it and I’m enjoying the challenge.

    “I think it’s great that we can be in this position playing the French, who are so dominant. Coming on clay I definitely think we’re the underdogs but we have a lot of game and we’re ready to play this weekend.”

    The British number one is Katie Boulter, who has surged into the top 30 this year having been ranked well outside the top 100 12 months ago when Britain lost to the same opponents on hard courts in Coventry.

    She will take on up-and-coming 21-year-old Diane Parry in the opening match on Friday in what will be just Boulter’s third match on clay since April 2021.

    The reverse singles will take place on Saturday and, if necessary, the tie will conclude with a deciding doubles, for which Keothavong has selected Harriet Dart and Heather Watson, although changes can be made.

    The GB captain was keen to play up Britain’s status as underdogs, saying: “We’re here on French turf. The French have the home support, they have the experience in this team, they’ve had a lot of success in this competition.

    “But I’m confident and I back my players. It’s a great opportunity. We’ve prepared as well as we could have and I’m looking forward to the matches tomorrow.”

    Elsewhere in the qualifiers, Naomi Osaka is playing in the competition for the first time since 2020 in Japan’s tie with Kazakhstan while world number one Iga Swiatek leads Poland against Switzerland.

  • CJ Ujah named in Great Britain relay squad for first time since drugs ban CJ Ujah named in Great Britain relay squad for first time since drugs ban

    CJ Ujah has been named in Great Britain’s 4x100m relay squad for next month’s World Athletics Relays in the Bahamas for the first time since returning from a 22-month drugs ban.

    Ujah, now 30, tested positive for two banned substances in a test taken at the Tokyo Olympics, which led to his team being stripped of their silver medal.

    Team-mate Richard Kilty, who has also been named in the eight-strong men’s squad, said at the time he would “never forgive” Ujah for forcing him to hand back his medal.

    Another member of the Tokyo squad, Reece Prescod, is also named despite quitting the relay team shortly before last year’s World Championships in Budapest, and subsequently accusing UK Athletics of “emotional blackmail” in their attempts to convince him otherwise.

    Seemingly alluding to the issues relating to Ujah and Prescod, British Athletics head of sprints and relays Darren Campbell said: “They (the men’s 4x100m squad) have had their fair share of challenges in recent years.

    “But I have have had my own discussions with each and every member of the squad and know they are motivated, committed and focused on working together to reach Paris.”

    Ujah was cleared of deliberately taking a banned substance, but was criticised for not following established protocols when he unknowingly bought a contaminated supplement for £10 off Amazon during lockdown.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.