Novak Djokovic, just a year removed from becoming Flushing’s instant darling after unveiling his array of tennis impressions (he served it just like Sharapova! Uncanny!), has managed nearly as quickly to become more unpopular than Armando Benitez in the Big Apple.
After dispatching Andy Roddick in four sets in the US Open quarterfinals, Djokovic celebrated with a double-barreled Usain Bolt chest thump, then blasted Roddick in his on-court interview.
(Video of Novak’s post-match interview after the jump.)
From THE NEW YORK TIMES:
Interviewed on the court afterward, he suggested that the turning point in the match was a verbal volley that Roddick had fired two nights earlier, after he and Djokovic had won their respective fourth-round matches.
Djokovic had required five sets and two visits from the trainer to get past Tommy Robredo. When Roddick, an easy winner over Fernando González, was asked about Djokovic’s medley of maladies, he sarcastically suggested that Djokovic might also be afflicted by cramps, bird flu, anthrax, SARS and the common cold.
“Andy was saying I have 16 injuries in last match,” Djokovic told the Arthur Ashe crowd. “Obviously I don’t.” That elicited a round of boos that Djokovic acknowledged by saying: “Yeah, right. Like it or not, it’s like that.”
Referring to the crowd, he continued: “I know they’re already against me because they think I’m faking everything. That’s not nice, anyhow, to say I have 16 injuries and I’m faking it.”
As we all know, challenging a New York crowd is always a good thing. It is a tennis crowd, though, so Djokovic is probably just provoking an onslaught of flying ascots and fine cheeses from the Arthur Ashe faithful in his semifinal against Roger Federer.
Roddick, who blew the momentum he had built in rallying from a two-set deficit by double-faulting his way to a service break at 5-4 in the fourth, was befuddled by Djokovic’s vitriol:
Someone who mimics other people should be able to recognize a joke when he hears it, said Roddick, who seemed dumbstruck by Djokovic’s postmatch comments on the court. He said his comments were meant as a joke and added: “I figure if you’re going to joke and imitate other people and the whole deal, then you should take it. I’m sorry he took it that way. There’s nothing else to say.”
But instead of shouting “I demand satisfaction” and scheduling a Friday duel in front of the Unisphere, Djokovic later indicated that he and Roddick hugged it out and all is OK.
*UPDATE*: Here’s video of Novak’s post-match Roddick rant: