Nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic has doubled down on his criticism of a major European broadcaster in a withering rant, demanding a public apology and complaining he is the target of a ‘public lynching’.
In the superstar’s first-round match, Djokovic dashed off court in the opening set to take an early bathroom break after a brief discussion with the umpire.
Eurosport tweeted: “Novak Djokovic defied the umpire to take an early bathroom break in his first match at the Australian Open (eyes emoji)” while commentator Mark Petchey suggested he was using his status and “pulling rank”.
“He needs to go to the toilet? After five games?” Nine commentator and tennis great John Fitzgerald said in commentary for Nine.
Petchey responded: “Well I think he’s actually just pulled rank there as well. I think the official was trying to pull him back.”
After the match, Djokovic took to social media to slam Eurosport for claiming he ‘defied the umpire’, writing: “Eurosport please get your informations (sic) checked before you post something judgmental and wrong.” He further explained what had happened in a second post.
After his second-round win on Thursday night, Djokovic was asked by Serbian reporters about the incident – and delivered a lengthy rant against the broadcaster.
Djokovic claimed Eurosport were ‘sensationalising something which is completely taken out of context’, said he was an ‘easy target to be the villain’.
He added ‘the media are publicly lynching me’ but declared ‘I will not tolerate injustice’.
Djokovic demanded a public apology from the broadcaster, as well as slammed the ATP Tour for their failure to defend him against media who ‘roast him as much as (they) want’.
The Serbian star said (as translated via TennisMajors): “Again, I have been placed in a situation where I have to react publicly. For the second time in six months, I have a problem with Eurosport. Eurosport have engaged a new company in London that is running their social media. I saw that it was someone new and they confirmed it ….
“I can’t remember the details of exactly what happened six months ago, but at the time I said I will not be giving any interviews to Eurosport. Subsequently they apologised to me, and everything was OK; but here we are again where Eurosport is sensationalising something which is completely taken out of context,” said Djokovic to which he added:
“After my reaction today and my social media posts, Eurosport deleted theirs, same as what they did with the last one. OK, I gave an interview to Barbara Schett, who apologised to me. Boris Becker also contacted me, Mats Wilander, they all work for Eurosport. I have nothing against them. I love Eurosport, I love sport in general – I have been watching skiing on Eurosport my whole life, but these situations …”
The 21-time slam winner went on: “In our organisation – ATP or WTA – there has to be a system of timely protection of players, someone who will react, do something about these things. I am an easy target to be the villain. That is how they portray me, for me that is now a normal occurrence – but I will not tolerate injustice.
“Some things I can tolerate, some I cannot – they do not deserve for something like this to just be allowed, to get away with it. Usually I don’t react, even though I could have reacted a thousand times over different things in the past. Today they went completely overboard.
“Nobody apologised to me publicly. Are they going to publicly apologise to me? I don’t think so. Eurosport is broadcasting the Australian Open, they are one of the biggest sports channels in the world. They could issue a public apology.”
Djokovic revealed he had received a private apology from Eurosport, but was unsatisfied.
“Both times they apologised to me privately, but people don’t know about that. I know it, and you know it – because I just told you, but the majority of people who follow tennis will never hear about it. They will still think that I defied the umpire, went to the toilet and that I didn’t follow the rules.
“So, again I am portrayed as the one who behaves how he wants, which is completely untrue. I explained in my social media post exactly what happened.
“Again, I am publicly asking a question: why didn’t the ATP or the Grand Slam come out and explain the situation, when they can see that the media are publicly lynching me? This has been happening continuously, there have been many situations like this one – but in the end nothing, it’s all the same
“At the end of the day, if we are members of this Tour, surely there has to be some responsibility towards the players, some sort of protection. But no, ‘you do what you want and roast him as much as you want in media, while we remain silent.’”
Originally published as ‘Easy target to be the villain’: Djoker slams ‘public lynching’ in bonkers blow-up