Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic is yet to drop a set in the 2023 French Open AFP / JULIEN DE ROSA

Novak Djokovic is certainly one superstar that some parts of the tennis world love to hate. He has become a divisive figure over the years, and this year in Roland Garros, he has spoken up to slam those in the stands who appear to "boo every single thing."

Djokovic has had his fair share of clashes with members of the audience and even with the umpire and his opponents throughout his long, illustrious career, but he has been able to use the negativity to fuel his desire to win.

He started his campaign at this year's French Open with a controversy after making a statement saying "Kosovo is the heart of Serbia." The region is currently facing a political crisis after an election that saw native Albanians win the local elections.

He has since been reprimanded by tournament director Amelie Mauresmo, and was also slammed by the French Sports minister.

Now, it appears as though some members of the crowd are not pleased with some of his actions on court, and they were quite vocal during his 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-2 third-round victory over Spanish 29th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

The first two sets were extremely tight, and Djokovic made a number of errors including three double-faults in a single game. Parts of the audience started to jeer at him, and in his post-match press conference, the world number 3 addressed the situation.

"There are people — there are groups or whatever — that love to boo every single thing you do. That's something that I find disrespectful, and I frankly don't understand that," he said, before saying that "it's their right. They paid the ticket. They can do whatever they want."

Despite the hostility from the crowd, Djokovic managed to come back from being two points from losing the second set. He was down 5-4 in the tiebreak before managing to force Davidovich Fokina into three consecutive errors.

The Serb then provoked his haters even more by walking towards the crowd and pumping his fist in the air while roaring in triumph. Needless to say, the crowd did not appreciate his gesture and the jeers grew even louder.

Then, things became even more tense when Djokovic took a medical timeout ahead of the third set. He has previously been criticised by tennis fans and other competitors on tour for strategically taking a timeout after particularly difficult sets, and then going on to win without so much of a hint of a medical issue. However, he has always stayed within the regulations and his right to take advantage of the treatment breaks.

This time, as he sat in his chair while receiving treatment on court, he appeared to revel in the crowd's disapproval by waving his hand as if to encourage more boos and jeers. He gave the crowd a thumbs up and applauded before shaking his head and giving a laugh.

He then went on to say that most times, he would simply stay quiet whenever he met some disapproval from the audience. "Sometimes, I will oppose that because I feel when somebody is disrespectful, he or she deserves to have an answer to that. That's what it is all about."

Elsewhere in the tournament, Djokovic is not the only one being targeted by a hostile crowd. Ukrainian player Marta Kostyuk was booed by the crowd after she refused to shake the hand of Belarusian opponent Aryna Sabalenka. She later admitted that she was shocked that the crowd reacted that way after she made the move as a form of protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Belarus is a staunch ally of Russia, and Ukrainian players have been protesting against allowing players from both countries to compete in the professional tour.