Novak Djokovic: Adam Hills shares opinion on tennis star
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John McEnroe has taken aim at the fans who booed Novak Djokovic during his French Open quarter-final defeat to Rafael Nadal. The world number one received a mixed reaction during the pulsating clash against his great rival, especially after an incident early in the fourth set.
The 35-year-old was dominating a point before one of his forehands that looked destined to be a winner clipped the net and took the sting out of his shot. It also dropped short which allowed the Spaniard to hit a clean shot back at him which he was not not able to volley and went on to lose the point, before smacking the net with his racket in a fit of rage.
Jeers rained down from the crowd as a result, but McEnroe was not impressed with the reaction. “I mean, cut the guy some slack!” McEnroe said on commentary. “I mean, come on! He’s out there battling, he hit the ball, he thinks it’s going to be a winner… it clips the tape, and then that’s harsh. That’s all I can say. They should be happy he cares that much!”
The tennis icon wasn’t done there as he explained how Djokovic has been able to overcome any adversity from the crowd throughout his illustrious career. “No other player has had to deal with more adversity [than Novak],” McEnroe added.
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“It is unfair, I’ve got to say that. This guy has turned lemons into lemonade more often than any player in the history of tennis, and if you don’t think it bothers him, you’re nuts! He is so mentally tough that he can deal with this and somehow channel that anger and frustration over what he feels is a lack of respect – and I feel it is too!”
For over four hours, the two legends of the sport contested a truly entertaining battle in the last eight of the second Grand Slam of the year. Despite facing each other 59 times, the pair found a way to bring the best out of one another and discover unique and innovative ways to gain the upper hand in rallies.
The pendulum swung back and forth on numerous occasions, as Nadal stormed into an early lead, taking the first set 6-2 and established a 3-0 lead in the second. But the Serbian stormed back to take 6 of the next 7 games to level the match. Nadal found an extra gear to force an early break of serve in set three, as he did in the first two sets, and went ahead by two sets to onw.
The momentum swung yet again as Djokovic finally began set a set on the front foot, holding serve before breaking Nadal and forging a 3-0 lead. But while serving for the set at 5-3, Nadal dug deep to save two points before breaking serve and consolidating it to level the set at 5-5. The pair both held serve to take the set to a tiebreak, a fitting end to a highly competitive set of tennis. The 21-time Grand Slam champion showed his class as he ramped up his aggression before storming into a 6-1 lead, before winning it 7-4, and clinched first tiebreak win over his great foe since 2013.
A scorching backhand down the line sealed a 29th victory against Djokovic for Nadal, who triumphed 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4). It was an incredible display from the man who turns 36 in two days and he was delighted with the level of tennis he was able to produce. “It is very emotional for me,” he said. “It is incredible to play here. Everyone knows how important this tournament is for me – it is the most important tournament in my career. It was very, very tough to play Novak.
“He is one of the best players in history. It is always hard with the history we have. To win against Novak, there is only one way. To play your best from the first point until the last. It was a magic night for me and I am super happy. To feel the love from everyone here in Paris means everything to me.” Nadal will take on Alexander Zverev, Carlos Alcaraz’s conqueror, in the semi-finals on Friday.
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