Novak Djokovic adopted an uncharacteristic approach by “enjoying” the animosity he received from the Turin crowd on Tuesday, according to Tim Henman. The world No 1 suffered defeat at the hands of home favourite Jannik Sinner at the ATP Finals and the crowd were certainly not on his side.
Djokovic confirmed he would end the year on top of the world rankings with victory in his tournament opener against Holger Rune on Sunday. But the 24-time Grand Slam champion wasn’t to have it his own way against Sinner.
Italian Sinner was always going to have the crowd on his side and his name was chanted from the moment he stepped on court. Djokovic wasn’t too happy though when they cheered a double fault of his during the first set.
The 36-year-old handed Sinner a break point with the mistake and sarcastically clapped the crowd for their celebratory reaction. But the fans hit back by booing and whistling Djokovic.
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He was later seen orchestrating the crowd in a jovial manner while sitting in his chair between matches. Djokovic has often been distracted by negativity from the crowd during his illustrious career but Henman noted that the Serb’s persona was a lot different to usual on Tuesday.
He said on Amazon Prime Video: “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.
“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.”
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Sinner went on to beat Djokovic for the first time in his career in a tight three-set contest. Djokovic had no complaints about the crowd’s reaction when speaking after the defeat.
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 crowd wanted him to win.”
Djokovic is next in action on Thursday against Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz as he looks to qualify for the semi-finals. Hurkacz has replaced Stefanos Tsitsipas in Green Group after the Greek pulled out of the tournament due to injury following retirement from his match against Rune.
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