US Open: why does New York not love Novak Djokovic?
Djokovic secures a second US Open title but can't win over the fans as he beats Roger federer at Flushing Meadow
Novak Djokovic overcame the challenge of Roger Federer and a partisan crowd at Flushing Meadow to claim his second US Open title.
The Serb won 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to claim his third Grand Slam of the year and deny the evergreen Federer a first major title for three years.
It was Djokovic's tenth Grand Slam triumph, but he had to contend with what the BBC calls "a heavily pro-Federer crowd".
"This was another breathtaking display of resilience from Djokovic in the face of the most partisan crowd he has ever encountered in a Grand Slam final," says Russell Fuller of the BBC.
Many of the fans in New York "took pleasure in his errors while cheering Federer to the rafters", reports The Times. "The partisanship clearly riled Djokovic on the court and he tore a button from his shirt in one defiant celebration."
But Djokovic was diplomatic after the final even if he hinted at his frustration. "Everybody has a choice to support a player that they want to support," he said. “He [Federer] absolutely deserves to have the support he does because of all the years and success that he had and the way he carries himself on and off the court... hopefully in the future I can be in that position."
But why has Djokovic failed to win over the tennis public?
According to Charlie Eccleshare of the Daily Telegraph and other observers there are a number of reasons.
Prior to his breakthrough year in 2011, Djokovic had earned a reputation "for gamesmanship, flakiness and ill-health", says the paper. There was criticism from sainted players including Federer and Andy Roddick, and Djokovic was regarded by many as a "graceless punk", despite his well documented sense of humour.
He feeds off animosity
Djokovic has also learned to harness animosity, something he had to do in his campaign to topple two of the most popular players of all time in Federer and Rafa Nadal.
"The world No 1 is often at his best when his eyes are bulging out of their sockets... as the audience wails at the sight of their favourite being beaten," says Eccleshare. "What tends to happen is a vicious cycle develops where the less warmth Djokovic feels from the crowd, the more he bates them with his me-against-the-world celebrations, and incurs their ire."
He's not Federer or Nadal
Djokovic is unfortunate that his time has come in the era of Federer and Nadal. "In many ways Djokovic's ascent made him less popular, as inevitably it came at the expense of the more popular Nadal, Andy Murray and most damagingly the untouchable Federer," explains Eccleshare.
Tariq Engineer of website Salon agrees: "He seems to be at best the fan's second choice, appreciated for his tennis but not loved and cherished like Federer or Nadal. Or Sampras and Agassi before them."
Federer and Nadal provided the "perfect contrast" - graceful right-handed Federer, the king of grass, versus macho lefty Nadal, the master of clay. As their rivalry has faded Djokovic has failed to provide the same element of ying and yang.
"His game is similar to Federer's but not as pleasing to watch. On the basis of beauty, rooting for Federer over Djokovic is easy. And while Djokovic covers the court as well as Nadal does, he lacks the aura of Nadal, who seemed invincible in his prime."