Novak Djokovic changes his tune as he's spotted "enjoying" ATP Tour Finals loss
Novak Djokovic has actively decided to change his approach to dealing with negativity from the crowd, according to Tim Henman.
Despite cementing his place as one of the finest tennis players of all time, Djokovic has often been cast as the pantomime villain on court. The 24-time Grand Slam winner is not always the favourite with spectators and, in the past, has reacted with frustration and anger at their support for his opponent.
Djokovic suffered defeat at the hands of Jannik Sinner at the ATP Tour Finals on Tuesday night in Turin. Sinner had never beaten the world No1 in three previous attempts, but roared on by the home crowd, the Italian prevailed 7-5, 6-7, 7-6 to end Djokovic’s 19-match winning streak.
Sinner’s name was chanted by the crowd, who also cheered a double fault from Djokovic in the first set which handed the home favourite a breakpoint. The 36-year-old Serb reacted by sarcastically clapping the spectators, who then booed and whistled. Djokovic didn’t appear to be rattled, however, and later decided to orchestrate the crowd from his seat between games.
Henman has previously noted Djokovic’s tendency to get derailed by the mood inside the court. The former British No.1 was taken by his change in approach against Sinner.
“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,” he said on Amazon Prime Video.
“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.”
Djokovic appeared to be continuing with his more mellow tone in his post-match media duties. Asked about the negative reaction of the crowd, he said: “Well, I mean, it was expected. Obviously, him being the only Italian in the tournament, playing in Italy, there was a big hype, a big excitement for him to play in front of his home crowd. He's in great form. It's normal that the crowd wanted him to win.”
Sinner paid tribute to his opponent, saying: "It means a lot to me. When you win against the world No. 1 who has won 24 Grand Slams, it's obviously at the top. I felt like it was a really tactical match but I managed to win so I'm very happy."
Despite his defeat, Djokovic has already ensured he will end 2023 as the world No.1 thanks to a win over Holger Rune on Sunday. It means he will end a year on top of the rankings for a record eighth time. “It was a very emotional win and a tough win knowing the significance of tonight’s match,” Djokovic told Prime Video on Sunday.