Novak Djokovic heard a chorus of boos during his first round match at the 2022 French Open. It marked the Serbian tennis star’s first Grand Slam appearance of 2022 after missing the Australian Open due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Djokovic ended up defeating Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, 6-3, 6-1, 6-0, during their opening round match on Monday. During the second set, Djokovic won a critical point in the match and chose to celebrate the accomplishment by pumping his fists. As a result, the crowd rained down boos on the 35-year-old star.
United States tennis legend John McEnroe was in the booth to help call the match for Eurosport and weighed in on the crowd’s reaction towards Djokovic.
“Are you kidding me?” said McEnroe. “Why would they boo that? He’s trying too hard, let’s boo him.”
Just a short time later, Djokovic celebrated in a similar manner and the crowd chose to boo him once again.
“I have no idea what they are thinking,” McEnroe added. “It makes no sense.”
Following his victory over Nishioka, Djokovic addressed the crowd.
“I have to be pleased with the match,” Djokovic said, according to Insider. “I struggled to adapt in the first set. He is a very quick player. The first set was close, but I cruised through the second and third. I always expect the highest for myself, but it was a very good start. I have been feeling well on clay in the past few weeks. I am happy to be back.
“The memories from last year are fresh in my mind.”
Djokovic missed the 2022 Australian Open and didn’t return to the court until April, when he competed at the Monte-Carlo Masters. Despite being the No. 1 seed in the event, Djokovic lost to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round after he had a bye in the opening round.
Djokovic also competed in the Serbia, Madrid, and Italian Opens in April and May. In the Italian Open, Djokovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final and it marked his sixth Italian Open title.