‘Tell it to my face’: Novak Djokovic responds to heckling fan at Australian Open

Novak Djokovic was involved in an altercation with a heckling fan during his four-set victory over Australian favourite Alexei Popyrin.

The world No. 1 had just navigated through a tense tiebreak to take a 2-1 set lead in the Australian Open second round match, with the incident occurring early in the fourth set.

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WATCH: Djokovic challenges heckling fan at Australian Open

Three hours into the match, Djokovic stopped before serving, turning to a section of the Rod Laver Arena crowd before identifying one spectator.

He repeatedly told the fan to “come and tell it to my face”, with it unclear what the specific heckle was.

The umpire then requested the resumption of the match as Djokovic returned to the service line.

Watch the incident below:

It appeared words of the heckler didn’t have the desired effect, with the incident firing Djokovic up.

The Serbian went on to win the fourth and final set 6-3.

Djokovic also appeared to celebrate in the direction of the offending fan after securing match point.

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The 36-year-old explained there was persistent heckling from multiple fans, before deciding to interact with one particular spectator.

“You don’t want to know [what he said],” Djokovic said in his post-match press conference.

“There was a lot of things that were being told to me on the court, particularly from that corner, and the same side [from] the other corner.

“I was tolerating it for most of the match. At one point I had enough, and I asked him whether he [wanted] to come down and tell it to my face.

“When you confront somebody, unfortunately for him, he didn’t have the courage to come down.

“That’s what I was asking him – if you have courage, if you’re such a tough man … come down and tell it to my face and let’s have a discussion about it.”

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Djokovic later elaborated on the incident and stated why he decided to challenge the fan.

“It is what it is, it’s a grand slam, it’s a fight. Of course, it annoys you but you have to accept it and go with it,” he told Eurosport.

“But what really frustrates me is when somebody is heckling me, so I confronted him. I invited him to come and say it to my face.

“He was apologising from far away. All of a sudden there was an absence of courage when he [needed] to face me.”

‘I’ll do it for you bro’: Kyrgios supports Djokovic after heckling

Nick Kyrgios – who is absent for a second consecutive Australian Open through injury – discussed the incident with Djokovic post-match.

The Australian tennis star is doing commentary for Eurosport during the tournament and offered his support to the Serbian in typical fashion.

“If you want me to jump into the crowd and sort him out, I’ll do it for you bro,” Kyrgios said, via Eurosport.

“I [have] got your back 100 per cent.” 

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