After an incredible 2015 season, Novak Djokovic again demonstrated his dominance in 2016, winning two Major crowns and four Masters 1000 titles. Novak claimed his first Roland Garros crown in June to complete a career Grand Slam and become the second player in the Open Era to occupy all four Majors simultaneously. Hoping for a title defense at Wimbledon, Novak was unable to maintain the level of the early part of the season and suffered an early defeat. The Serbian fended off 16 of 18 break opportunities against James Ward and Adrian Mannarino to beat them in straight sets and set up the match against Sam Querrey in the third round. The American stepped onto the court determined to challenge a great rival, winning both tiebreakers and saving 14 of 17 break opportunities to beat Novak in four sets and end his incredible streak in Majors. Five years later, Djokovic finds himself in a similar position, lifting trophies at the Australian Open and Roland Garros and being the player to beat at Wimbledon. Speaking about his 2016 campaign, Novak said that he feels more experienced and complete now, looking good and taking small steps towards the trophy. Djokovic began his sixteenth season at Wimbledon with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over young Briton Jake Draper in two hours. Determined to show his best tennis in the local Major, Draper claimed the opener with a single break before Djokovic took over, dropping five games in the remainder of the clash to make a winning start. In the second round, the five-time winner defeated former Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in 100 minutes. Novak was the dominant figure on both serve and return, losing 15 points in his games and offering four breaks to cross the finish line and stay on track for the title.
Kudla exhorted the spectators to keep rooting for him
In his post-match press conference, Denis Kudla first opined that fans want to see “surprises” and so they don’t root as vociferously for Novak Djokovic despite holding him in high regard. The American further pointed out that Roger Federer is always cheered on by the fans, a luxury that Djokovic doesn’t enjoy. “It was part of the tactics, to use the crowd and try to get him flustered,” Kudla said. “If I can get the crowd on my side, it’s only going to help me, at least I think so. That was definitely in the game plan.” Denis Kudla further pointed out how fans usually root for the underdog in sport, and especially so against athletes as dominant as Novak Djokovic. “People like the underdogs,” the 28-year-old added. “I think in most sports when you see someone who’s that highly ranked and as dominant as him, people just want to see a change, unfortunately.”