Novak Djokovic won his first match at the US Open on Tuesday against Holger Rune, but admitted that the atmosphere on the court was far from ideal.
This year’s event drew record crowds to Flushing Meadows, with fans aged 12 and up required to show proof of vaccination, but not everyone seemed to want the world No. 1 to win.
Djokovic is attempting to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the calendar grand slam, but he claims he heard booing from the crowd during his 6-1 6-7 6-2 6-1 victory.
“I didn’t know what they were chanting honestly. I thought they were booing,” he told reporters after the match.
“I don’t know, it was not ideal atmosphere for me to tell you that. But I’ve been in these particular atmospheres before, so I knew how to handle it.
“I mean, obviously you always wish to have crowd behind you, but it’s not always possible.
“That’s all I can say. I mean, I don’t know. I’ve been focusing on myself and what I need to do. I guess I have to just see how it feels on the court and try to keep it together. That’s all I can do.”
Fans were booing the Serbian, but it’s unclear whether they were chanting “Rune” in support of his Danish opponent.
Rune was perplexed by what he initially mistook for booing, but said he was relieved when he realized that many people were simply rooting for the underdog.
Djokovic has already won the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon this year, and all he needs now is one more victory at the year’s final slam.
The Serbian star was attempting to become the first man to win a ‘Golden Slam,’ which consists of four grand slams and an Olympic gold medal in the same calendar year, but he was defeated in the semifinals by eventual gold medalist Alexander Zverev in Tokyo 2020.
He admitted that he “ran out of gas” at the Summer Olympics, but that he is eager to return after a break.
“It’s a privilege to be under pressure.” “Throughout my career, I’ve grown and kind of developed to really handle pressure in the right way,” he added. “However, nothing is certain.
“I like to have adversity. I like to have expectations and pressure and, you know, in a way it draws the best out of me. So, yeah, hopefully, I can have a fantastic couple of weeks.”