World number one Novak Djokovic stormed past Denis Kudla 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 to reach the fourth round of Wimbledon 2021 and he has spoken about constantly having to battle against both his opponent and the crowd.
Djokovic, the top seed and overwhelming favourite at SW19, was ruthlessly efficient in securing a straight-sets victory over the American on Court One.
The top seed never really looked overly troubled, even when Kudla raced into an early lead in the third set tie-break, and he will next take on Cristian Garin after the 25 year old from Chile beat Pedro Martinez. He was fired up during the match and later explained to the media about the emotions of not being supported by large sections of the crowd at many events.
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“Look, to be honest, it is not something that the people do not see," Djokovic told the Serbian press. "It is a fact that I play 90 percent of my matches, if not even more than that, against the opponent, but against the stadium as well. Places where I get more support than my opponent are rare.
It is something that I am used to, but on the other hand, I am a human being with emotions, so it is normal that sometimes it gets to me and annoys me when someone provokes me.
"There were a few people, but I do not want to get into details. My reactions were explosive, perhaps more explosive than they should be, but I had to get it out of my system and put them in their place.
“Look, you know, in the heat of battle, these things happen. You release the emotions, the stress, the pressure that you feel on the court. Yeah, sometimes you are maybe looking for a little bit of support or sometimes you just want to let it go. That is what happened to me.”
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In his on-court interview after the match, Djokovic was asked about his battling qualities and where they came from, and he made headlines by talking about the "wolf energy" that inspires him from his upbringing.
"I think a part of it is genes - my family, the way I've grown up during difficult times for my country," Djokovic explained.
"Failure was never an option for me or anyone in my family. We just needed to find the basic needs for us to survive during those times. It was difficult, and I think that has strengthened my character, I would say.
Part of it comes from my upbringing in the mountains. I spent a lot of time in the mountains with wolves, so this is a wolf energy right here. I'm not kidding, actually!
Novak Djokovic, poing serré, lors de son 3e tour du tournoi de Wimbledon, contre Denis Kudla, le 2 juillet 2021
Image credit: Getty Images
Speaking to ESPN later on, he elaborated on the "wolf energy" line from his on-court interview that caught widespread attention.
"I like to think about wolves as my kind of spiritual nature guide,” he said. "I really do because I’ve seen some wolves when I was a kid, kind of roaming in the forest in the mountains where I grew up, and that encounter kind of left me frightened and then at the same time even more connected with wolves, and I feel that the connection has carried on throughout my life.
"It was kind of a half-joke on the court, so to speak. There is the connection, and I personally feel it, there is that energy of wolves and mountains and everything that I grew up with and the circumstances that I was in when I was a kid – I carry that with me, and that helps me find that energy when I need it.
"That dynamic energy that sometimes it just turns into a roar or an outburst but most of the times it is useful energy."
The Australian Open and French Open champion earlier this year has been heavily backed to continue his incredible form this season as he aims to draw level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 Grand Slam singles titles.
The defending champion, chasing his sixth Wimbledon title, certainly appears set to make it three Grand Slams out of three this year if he can continue as he has started.
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