"Ivanisevic saying Rafa had no chance before 2020 final" - Rafael Nadal fans react to "lack of respect" comments about Novak Djokovic at French Open 2023
The tennis world is divided over Novak Djokovic not being considered the favorite in the 2023 French Open semifinal against Carlos Alcaraz.
Djokovic and Alcaraz will meet for only the second time in their careers in the Roland Garros semifinals on Friday, June 9. The bookmakers and the general public see Alcaraz as the favorite to win, even though he is playing a two-time French Open champion and the holder of 22 Grand Slam titles.
Tennis journalist Jon Wertheim, however, doesn't think the predictions are fair to Djokovic.
"Not saying Djokovic is going to win. But the lack of respect for a guy with 22 Majors, more QF runs at Roland Garros than Nadal, and as ironclad mental toughness (over 15 years) as you’ll ever see in sports... is quite something to behold," he tweeted.
Wertheim's opinion triggered reactions from different sections of the fans, with Nadal's supporters pointing to Goran Ivanisevic's comments prior to the 2020 French Open final.
Ivanisevic, who is Novak Djokovic's coach, had then said that Nadal "doesn't have a chance" in the final. His statements backfired as the Mallorcan went on to demolish Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 and win the title.
"Lack of respect Ivanisevic saying Rafa had no chance before the RG 2020 final lol," a fan said.
"Just to be clear, Djokovic is better than Nadal in Roland Garros because he has more qf? This is hilarious... I suppose they’re gonna remove his statue and put one of Serbian instead," added another fan.
There were some fans, on the other hand, who agreed with Wertheim, saying that the two-time champion should be considered the favorite.
"Genuinely can't believe everyone thinks Novak shouldn't be considered the favorite over a player who is making his first ever semifinal at RG. This is Deja vu of AO 22 final. I would like to be proved wrong by Carlitos but there's no way Novak isn't the favorite for the match," one user opined.
"Djokovic is definitely the favourite in my eyes. Too much experience. Not sure saying 'has more QF runs at RG than Nadal' has much credibility," added another user.
Here are some more fan reactions:
Mats Wilander: Novak Djokovic is "unbelievable"
Mats Willander lavished praise on Novak Djokovic after his French Open 2023 quarterfinal win against Karen Khachanov. Djokovic defeated Khachanov 4-6, 7-6(0), 6-2, 6-4 to reach his 12th Roland Garros semifinals, where he will face Carlos Alcaraz.
Three-time French Open champion Wilander was impressed with how Djokovic handled the tie-break in the second set, where he didn't lose a single point.
"Most people don't enjoy playing games because every point is not as important, as for the tie-breaker I sort of had a tough time because how can you play smart when you have to win every point? Novak is unbelievable," he said on Eurosport TV.
At this year's Paris Major, Djokovic has played five tie-breaks, in which he has hit 13 winners and not made a single unforced error.
Asked by co-host Barbara Schett to explain how Djokovic remains so cool and collected in the most important moments, Wiladner said:
"Because he got a really good practice session in the Wimbledon final against Roger Federer in 2019, when he won three tie-breakers without making a single unforced error, on grass!"