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Djokovic is Wimbledon's Darth Vader, says McEnroe

Crowded out: Novak Djokovic celebrates winning against Holger Rune (Ben Stansall)
Crowded out: Novak Djokovic celebrates winning against Holger Rune (Ben Stansall)

Tennis great John McEnroe has described Novak Djokovic as the Darth Vader of Wimbledon, claiming the Serb's uncompromising attitude and astonishing success have prompted fans to treat him with the same suspicion reserved for the Star Wars villain.

Djokovic lashed out at sections of the Centre Court crowd following his fourth-round win over Holger Rune on Monday, saying fans showed a lack of respect and accused them of booing him.

McEnroe, no stranger to love-hate relationships with fans throughout his career, said some supporters resent seeing Djokovic collect 24 Grand Slam titles, surpassing the achievements of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

"Don't you think there's been at least 100 matches over the course of the last 10 to 15 years that Djokovic has been disrespected because of how good he is?" McEnroe told the BBC.

"What has he done that's so bad? Name something. What is it? He wants it? He competes as hard as anyone who's ever competed? Is it the look, where he's from?

"He's like the Darth Vader compared to two of the classiest acts we've seen play tennis -- Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

"Who can compare to them in terms of what they brought to the table? Nobody - and then this guy Djokovic spoils the party. So then how about respecting him after all this?"

Djokovic launched an angry outburst at a section of Centre Court fans who constantly chanted "Rune" throughout his win over the Dane.

"To all the fans that have had respect and stayed here tonight, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I appreciate it," said an angry Djokovic.

"And to all those people that have chosen to disrespect the player -- in this case me -- have a goooooooood night," he added, mocking his tormentors' exaggerated "Ruuuuune".

The defiant Serb added: "Listen, I have been on the tour for more than 20 years. I know all the tricks, I know how it works. I focus on the respectful people that pay for the ticket and love tennis and appreciate the players.

"I have played in much more hostile environments, trust me -– you guys can't touch me."

Djokovic has fought a long, often losing battle to win over tennis fans around the world.

His fierce competitive spirit has often alienated spectators more used to the low-key demeanour of Federer and Nadal.

When Djokovic defeated Federer in an epic 2019 Wimbledon final, the majority of fans screamed for the Swiss star, willing him to win.

"When the crowd is chanting 'Roger' I hear 'Novak'," said Djokovic, who this year could equal Federer's men's record of eight Wimbledon titles.

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