Tennis great Boris Becker has demanded fans appreciate Novak Djokovic for the champion he is after boos overshadowed his Wimbledon title defence.
Rarely the fan favourite in matches against Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the Serbian world No.1 was clearly the second favourite during Sunday’s final at the All England Club.
The pro-Federer crowd roared with delight with every point he won but fell somewhat silent when Djokovic did so.
In a tense moment on a championship point for Djokovic, Federer pounded a backhand into the net after Djokovic’s shot was called out.
Djokovic won a challenge as Hawkeye showed the ball clipped the line but he questioned the umpire after it was ruled the point was to be replayed.
The 32-year-old enquired whether or not he should have been awarded the point – and therefore the championship – because Federer's subsequent shot was an error.
It was a fair question given the gravity of the situation, but the crowd loudly jeered the world No.1 before play continued.
Becker, who coached Djokovic for a three-year period that led to six grand slam titles, said the Serbian's growing haul of 16 majors deserves better than what fans are giving him.
"Federer is the greatest of all time here (at Wimbledon) and has the right to get that love, but on the other side you have to respect a four-time champion a little bit more," Becker said.
"I hope next year, if they played again, it would be more even. He came into the party that was the Roger and Rafa party and he became the party pooper.
"Now, after 16 majors, people have got to wake up to the greatness of Novak Djokovic."
I’ve always found the #Wimbledon crowd nauseating/annoying (let’s giggle at stuff like the ball going slightly over the net).— Rob Harries (@robharries83) July 14, 2019
I wanted Fed to win, but to boo Djokovic for having the temerity to speak to the umpire was poor/typical.
He is ALSO one of the greatest of all time.
I'm glad Djokovic won after all the unsporting booing from the crowd. Terrible! #WimbledonFinal— Camilla Long (@camillalong) July 14, 2019
This Wimbledon crowd extremely disrespectful towards Djokovic— #SendLocation (@Cody_b__) July 14, 2019
disgusting behaviour #Wimbledon
Disgusting for the crowd to boo at Djokovic - he’s perfectly entitled to query a wrong line call. #Wimbledon— Neil Armstrong 🚀 (@GH05TED) July 14, 2019
The scenario was not new to Djokovic, even during this tournament.
In his semi-final win over Roberto Bautista Agut the world No.1 fumed at the Centre Court crowd who willed his opponent to come out on top of a 45-shot rally.
Djokovic cupped his ear and lifted his finger to his lips to 'shush' his tormentors.
He conceded the epic final against Federer, the longest men's decider Wimbledon had witnessed, was the "toughest mentally" he had ever endured.
Strongly suggesting that the crowd became a bugbear, he revealed he was able to turn the love for Federer in his favour by training his mind.
"When the crowd is chanting 'Roger' I hear 'Novak'," Djokovic said.
Djokovic became the first man in 71 years to win the title from match points down.
"It was probably the most demanding, mentally, match I was ever part of," he said.
"I had the most physically demanding match against Nadal in the final of Australia that went almost six hours (in 2012). But mentally this was a different level, because of everything.
"I'm thrilled and overjoyed with emotions to be sitting here in front of you as a winner but I was one shot away from losing the match. It could have gone easily his way."