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World No. 1 Novak Djokovic admits he's only in third place in tennis' popularity stakes

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic admits he's only in third place in tennis' popularity stakes
Despite being the world's top tennis player, Novak Djokovic says he still feels second best when it comes to the crowd support he receives when he takes on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Speaking to the press in Serbia, Djokovic said his two big rivals always get better support from the stands than he does when they go head to head on the court.

"I've read a lot of stuff suggesting that I am disliked but I really don't have that impression, especially off-court," Djokovic told a news conference at his tennis academy in Belgrade.

"Even if that was true, why would I want to add fuel to the fire?

Also on rt.com Djokovic proves again that he is tennis’s ultimate warrior – even if the Serb is unlikely to ever get the full respect he’s due

"I don't want to stir up negative emotions. I have no ill feelings for people who don't support me. Having said that, I am not proud of my occasional reactions on the court as my passion gets the better of my self-control at times.

"I will always admit that I do make mistakes and I always try to learn from them. You reap what you sow and it is never my intention to generate bad energy."

But, after initially finding it hard to deal with, the Serbian star says he's fine with his place in the three-way popularity contest at the top of world tennis.

"It is a fact that most fans support Federer and Nadal against me but that's due to what they represent in world tennis," he said.

"It doesn't mean that fans hate me and it certainly doesn't mean that I need to turn Serbia against the rest of the world just because fewer people support me in Grand Slam finals."

Also on rt.com Wizard of Oz: Djokovic stages fightback to beat Thiem and win record-extending EIGHTH Australian Open

Djokovic even noted how the crowd's clear support for Federer in their Wimbledon final clash last year actually served to further motivate him to an even greater performance as he defeated the Swiss superstar to capture the title.

"When they chanted 'Roger, Roger' I willed myself into believing they were chanting 'Novak, Novak'," he said.

"Sometimes it does give me an impetus. But honestly, I do prefer having the crowd on my side.

"Where would you rather be, in a place where 10,000 fans are with you or against you?"

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