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Men's Tennis Djokovic claims Wimbledon crowd disrespected him with ‘Rune’ chants

NOVAK DJOKOVIC took aim at Centre Court spectators he claimed disrespected him during a straight-sets win over Holger Rune in the Wimbledon fourth round.

A last-16 tie with Rune had been expected to be Djokovic’s biggest test since having surgery on a torn meniscus last month, but the 24-time grand slam winner eased into the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory.

Rather than Rune being able to knock Djokovic off stride, it was fans inside Centre Court which frustrated the 37-year-old after he took exception to the surname of his opponent repeatedly being chanted.

During a heated on-court interview, Djokovic said: “Well, to all the fans that had respect and stayed here tonight thank you very much from the bottom of my heart, I appreciate it.

“And to all those people that have chosen to disrespect the player, in this case me, have a gooooood night. Gooood night, gooood night. Very good night.”

It was put to Djokovic that they were merely chanting Rune and not booing him, but the second seed countered back.

“They were (disrespecting), they were, they were. I don’t accept it,” Djokovic insisted.

“I know they were cheering for Rune, but that’s an excuse to also boo.

“Listen, I have been on the tour for more than 20 years. Trust me, I know all the tricks. I know how it works, it is fine. It is fine, it’s OK.

“I focus on the respectful people, they have respect, that pay a ticket to come and watch tonight and love tennis.

“Love tennis and appreciate the players, appreciate the efforts that the players put in here. I have played in much more hostile environments, trust me. You guys can’t touch me.”

Djokovic headed for the Centre Court exit to initial applause before further chants of Rune followed.

Monday’s final match was a battle between the master and apprentice given their close friendship, but they waited longer than expected after Taylor Fritz stormed back from a two-set deficit to beat Alexander Zverev.

When play did begin shortly after 7pm, Rune endured a torrid start and lost the first 12 points.

The Danish youngster smiled when he halted the run with a 130mph service winner, but the damage had been done.

Djokovic clinched a 29-minute opener with an ace and Rune hit a shot against an unfortunate ball boy at the start of the second set after being forced to scramble across the baseline.

The All England Club staffer remained a consummate professional and retrieved the loose ball before Rune checked in on him.

While world number 16 Rune was behind the eight-ball, he started to settle into a decent rhythm when Djokovic raced off court at the end of the fifth service game and returned seconds after the changeover time expired.

When Rune did next serve, he conceded a 40-15 advantage to be broken after he pulled a backhand shot wide to firmly put the seven-time Wimbledon champion in cruise control.

Djokovic moved two sets up, but only after he squandered six set points in the 10th game and expressed his frustration at the crowd repeatedly chanting the surname of his opponent.

Each set point saved produced louder calls of “Rune,” which Djokovic mimicked when he did finally wrap up the set after a forehand by the 21-year-old was sent long.

A break at the start of the third had Djokovic on course to pass the first major test of his right knee injury with flying colours.

Yet, further shouts of Rune provoked Djokovic to block his ears before two slips in the fifth service game brought a brief silence.

Djokovic, still with a grey support on his right knee, brushed off the falls to break again when Rune double-faulted before a volley sent him through to a seventh consecutive Wimbledon quarter-final, where Alex De Minaur lies in wait.

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