Where’s Waldo? In Melbourne, drunk and screaming obscenities at Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic had a heated exchange Thursday with the umpire at the Australian Open after dealing with verbal abuse from a group of fans dressed as the famous character.
“He’s been provoking all night, the entire night, the entire night — what are you going to do about it?” Djokovic said. “What are you going to do about it? What?”
The umpire’s apparent solution did not sit well with the nine-time Australian Open champ.
“The guy’s drunk out of his mind, from the first point he’s been provoking me,” an infuriated Djokovic screamed at the umpire in the fourth set of his victory over qualifier Enzo Couacaud.
“He’s not here to watch tennis. He just wants to get in my head. What are you going to do about it? Why don’t you get security to get him out of the stadium?”
That’s eventually what happened. Initially a security guard sat in front of the foursome, but with the abuse continuing, they were escorted out of Rod Laver Arena.
Djokovic, 35, has generally been received well by fans in his return Down Under after being deported from the country a year ago over his refusal to get vaccinated.
“Unbelievable atmosphere. Thank you so much for staying this late, everybody. Also, thank you for giving me such a welcoming and a reception I can only dream of,” Djokovic told the crowd after his first-round win. “I really feel very happy that I’m back in Australia and I’m back here on the court where I had the biggest success in my career.”
Djokovic, though, has bigger issues than fans — rowdy or otherwise. A hamstring issue that plagued him since a warmup tournament in Adelaide appeared to bother him again against Couacaud, who took a second tiebreaker from the tournament favorite.
“To be honest, it’s not good at all,” said Djokovic, who only dropped two games in the final two sets. “I’ll take it day to day. It was better last match than tonight. That’s all I can say, now it is up to God to help me, and physio and everyone, let’s take it day by day.
“I don’t know, I hope I’ll be able to recover and be ready for a tough match up next match.”
Djokovic plays 27th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov in the third round.
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