World No.1 Novak Djokovic cruised through his first round US Open match against Damir Dzumhur, but copped plenty of stick from fans on social media after celebrating in the empty stadium.
Djokovic was rarely troubled in his 6-1 6-4 6-1 over the Bosnian world no.109, with the latest victory extending his unbeaten run in 2020 to 24 matches.
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The Serbian superstar then proceeded to perform his usual post-match celebration of pushing both arms from his chest into each side of the stadium – although some felt it fell flat without anyone in the stands.
The controversial star said before the tournament that he would continue the celebration even in the absence of the crowd.
“Look, I’m going to keep on doing it because I just – I don’t know. I think it’s part of the routine,” Djokovic said.
“It’s part of also me paying a tribute and a thanks to the match and to the court and to the occasion.”
Many fans weren’t on board with his explanation though, taking to social media to suggest the 33-year-old was ‘just the worst’ and that he was celebrating for an ‘imaginary crowd’.
They should let him have this prerecorded applause even after the pandemic
— Erik Hane (@erikhane) August 31, 2020
That Djokovic celebration is just the worst.
— Tucker Blankinship (@TuckerBlanc) September 1, 2020
Djokovic saluting an imaginary audience.
— TheJPF (@JohnPaulFutbol) September 1, 2020
Djokovic begging for love from the seats or something.
— DMA (@TennisMajesty) September 1, 2020
The world No.1, who won his fourth title of the year at the Western & Southern Open on Saturday, improved to 24-0 this season with the win.
Afterwards Djokovic insisted: “Do I want to keep the streak going? Of course I do. But am I thinking about it as a priority every single day? No.
“But it’s there, it’s an additional motivation for me and it fuels me to play even stronger and even better and play to the right intensity in every match.”
Next up for Djokovic is Briton Kyle Edmund, who defeated Alexander Bublik in four sets earlier in the day.
Djokovic win follows breakaway controversy
Aussie tennis great Todd Woodbridge, British legend Andy Murray and other players have all questioned why women tennis players were not involved in the group, helped set up by Novak Djokovic, which broke from tennis on the weekend.
The tennis world descended into chaos only days before the US Open after it was confirmed Novak Djokovic helped lead a breakaway players association, which both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer publicly opposed.
In a stunning move after the Southern & Western Open the players confirmed the emergence of the PTPA with a photo standing together.
Djokovic could be seen at the front of the photo.
“After today’s successful meeting, we are excited to announce the beginning of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA),” Vasek Pospisil wrote on Twitter.
“The first player only association in tennis since 1972. #PTPA”
But a telling absence in the photo was the lack of women representatives.
And that is because as it stands, the PTPA just currently represents the men’s game.
The decision was labelled ‘tone-deaf’ from former Aussie double’s champion, turned analyst, Todd Woodbridge.
“This is tone deaf by the group that have decided to break away. The ATP is the players’ representation, they’ve got their seat at the table; they want more, they want more control of that,” Woodbridge said on the Wide World of Sports on Sunday.