Four-time champion Novak Djokovic denied a moody performance during his Wimbledon semi-final win over Robert Bautista Agut was because he felt the crowd were showing him a lack of respect.
The 32-year-old Serbian – who will contest his sixth Wimbledon final on Sunday against Roger Federer – did not appear at ease with the world during the match.
He constantly changed his racquet, asked the umpire to tell the crowd not to laugh as they did during a point, cupped his hand to ear when he won a point and put his finger to his mouth to hush them with a deathly stare.
However, he was at pains afterwards to draw a line under it and took a diplomatic line.
“No, I mean, look, I focused on what I need to do,” he said.
“At times they wanted him to come back to the match, maybe take a lead because he was an underdog in the match.
“I understand that. But I had enough support here over the years, so I don’t complain.”
Djokovic, who does not inspire the same warmth and affection his two great rivals Federer and Rafael Nadal do, said it is only natural that such an important match should be an emotional rollercoaster.
“It’s nothing unusual,” he said. “You go through these kind of emotional moments, especially in big matches like this, all the time.
“I mean, at least on my side. Sometimes I show my emotions, sometimes I don’t.
“It’s nothing really in particular. There’s always something that can take you out of the comfort zone.
“Sometimes you get frustrated. It’s important to bounce back really quickly.”
‘Misuse of labels’
Djokovic, who will be bidding for his 16th Grand Slam title – four off Federer’s overall record – said he would be able to keep his emotions in check on Sunday.
“Look, it wouldn’t be the first time playing against Federer on the Centre Court,” he said.
“I’ve had that experience more than once. As I said, I know what to expect.
“I’m going to go out there and fight and give it all. It’s the finals of Wimbledon.”
Djokovic said losing control would not be doing justice to the Grand Slam he reveres above all the others.
“This is the kind of a match that I always dreamt of as a young boy with the tennis racquet, dreamt of being part of,” he said.
“This is what I worked for. I wanted to be in this position. I have a chance to fight for a trophy.
“Regardless of who’s across the net or what is happening around, I’ll definitely give it all.”
Meanwhile, graffiti has appeared all over the neighbourhood of Wimbledon with the slogan, ‘Novak Djokovic is a vegan’.
Djokovic, who is an executive producer on a forthcoming documentary ‘The Game Changers’ about a plant-based diet being healthier and improving the performances of leading athletes, said he did not like the term.
“I don’t like the labels, to be honest,” he said.
“I do eat plant-based for quite a few years already.
“But because of the misinterpretations of labels and misuse of labels, I just don’t like that kind of name, so to say.
“I do eat plant based. I think that’s one of the reasons why I recover well.
“I don’t have allergies that I used to have any more. And I like it.”