Novak Djokovic rails at ‘disrespectful’ chants after routing Holger Rune | Wimbledon 2024

As the 2022 tennis season began to wind down in the cold indoor stadiums across Europe, Novak Djokovic found himself in an unusual situation. In the final of the Paris Masters that November, the Serb’s high level would have been sufficient to defeat many adversaries, but for once his opponent was even better. That night, a fearless 19-year-old named Holger Rune toppled Djokovic to win his first Masters 1000 title.

Performing at the highest level week in, week out, though, is a much greater task than producing occasional, early flashes of brilliance. Two years on from that striking encounter, Rune has not made as much progress as he hoped and, this time, the match-up was rather a mismatch. Under the Centre Court roof on Monday evening, an excellent Djokovic thoroughly outplayed Rune and silenced the crowd, returning to the quarter-finals of Wimbledon with a comfortable 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win.

The match was also notable for the crowd’s cheers, with spectators bellowing “Ruuuune” throughout the evening in a deep, elongated chant that sounded similar to booing. After his victory, Djokovic thanked the respectful parts of the crowd and criticised those who he felt disrespected him. When the on-court interviewer suggested that fans may have just been supporting Rune rather than disrespecting him, Djokovic responded:

“They were, I don’t accept it,” he said. “No. I know they were cheering for Rune but that’s an excuse to also boo. Listen, I’ve been on the tour for more than 20 years, so trust me, I know all the tricks. I know how it works. It’s fine, it’s OK. I focus on the respectful people, who have respect, that paid the ticket to come and watch tonight, and love tennis and appreciate the effort that the players put in here. I’ve played in a much more hostile environment, trust me. You guys can’t touch me.”

The victory marks a 15th career quarter-final for Djokovic at Wimbledon and a 60th major quarter-final. Regardless of how far he goes, it already ranks as one of his most remarkable quarter-final runs. Just 26 days before Wimbledon began, Djokovic underwent surgery on the torn medial meniscus that forced him to withdraw from the quarter-finals of the French Open.

At the time, it seemed reasonable to assume that Djokovic might not be present at Wimbledon in any form, particularly with the Olympics looming a few weeks later on clay. Instead, he continues to beat quality tennis players, to grow with every round and he remains a clear title contender even with the tournament favourites still present in the draw.

Novak Djokovic celebrates with a violin pose at the end of his victory over Holger Rune. Photograph: Paul Childs/Reuters

Between his breakthrough win over Djokovic in Paris and his rise to a top-four ranking last year, for some time Rune seemed to be the young player closest to breaking through after Carlos Alcaraz. But this sport is not easy. While Alcaraz has continued to soar and Jannik Sinner has stepped up, this has not been a straightforward year for Rune. His lack of confidence was reflected in his very first service game here, the 15th seed throwing in a horrible, error-strewn game to lose his serve and trail 2-0. Djokovic won the first 12 points of the match.

Throughout the match, Djokovic served well, dictated most exchanges from the baseline and cycled through his arsenal of shots well, keeping Rune guessing with drop shots and net approaches while remaining solid in key moments. As the crowd’s cheers became louder, Djokovic gestured towards some members of the audience. Still, he remained extremely solid as he closed out the win.

“To all the fans that have respect and stayed here tonight, thank you from the bottom of my heart, I appreciate it,” Djokovic said. “And to all the fans who have chosen to disrespect me, have a gooood night,” he added, referencing the “Rune” chants.

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For his part, Rune did not see any issue with the crowd’s behaviour and he referenced fans attempting similar chants during their meeting in 2021. “If you don’t know what was happening, probably it sounded like ‘boo’. But if we all know what happened, it was my name. Obviously he’s played so many matches since he played me last time. If he didn’t remember, it could probably sound different for him. I don’t think it played a massive part in the match,” said Rune.

Djokovic will next face Alex de Minaur, the ninth seed, in quarter-final No 60 on Wednesday. Earlier, De Minaur defeated Arthur Fils 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

The Australian suffered an injury scare at the end of the match after sliding out to his forehand, but he later said he was OK. Taylor Fritz, seeded 13th, continued to play some of the best tennis of his career as he pulled off a spectacular comeback from two sets down to defeat Alexander Zverev, the fourth seed, 4-6, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-3.

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