John McEnroe has said Novak Djokovic is thought of as the infamous Star Wars villain by some people
Former tennis 'super brat' John McEnroe says the sport needs strong personalities as the American idol claimed some fans view Serbian star Novak Djokovic as notorious Star Wars villain Darth Vader.
McEnroe, who was famed for his on-court outbursts during a controversial career in which he won seven Grand Slams, made the remarks as he backed comments by current tennis bad boy Nick Kyrgios on the importance of having a variety of characters in the sport.
"I've been talking about the need in tennis for personalities. You need to have a rooting interest in someone," McEnroe told Eurosport.
"Whether you think he's the bad guy, some people think Djokovic is Darth Vader. Everyone loves Roger Federer.
"It's not like it is in team sports where you can root for your city or your country, so this idea of expressing yourself and showing personality is very important," added the 62-year-old.
Perhaps coincidentally, Djokovic donned a Darth Vader mask before a match against American Sam Querrey in Paris back in 2012.
The Serbian star has a haul of 20 Grand Slam titles - a joint men's record alongside Swiss great Federer and Spanish legend Rafael Nadal.
But the Serb is widely acknowledged not to be granted the same kind of adulation around the world as Nadal and Federer - and opinions have once again been divided by Djokovic's deportation saga in Australia.
"It would be pretty hard on the other hand not to focus the last 10-15 years on those three guys [Djokovic, Nadal and Federer]," admitted McEnroe.
"What they've done is beyond belief, out of this world. Winning 20 majors each. I used to think I had seven, that's pretty good. Well it doesn't look so good now.
"This is an amazing thing. We're looking at these legends that are playing at the same time and doing things that are absolutely extraordinary, but at the same time I do think tennis needs to look around for other guys because the future is now."
McEnroe cited Russia's Daniil Medvedev as among the big characters who could come to dominate the sport through their achievements and personality.
In the absence of Djokovic, the Russian second seed has been installed as the favorite for this year's title in Melbourne, where he is chasing another Grand Slam crown to add to the one he claimed at the US Open back in September.
After booking a spot in the semifinals with an epic five-set comeback win against Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime on Wednesday, the 25-year-old Medvedev referenced Djokovic and his indomitable spirit as inspiration for his fightback.
"Medvedev, I love the way he is on the court, he's a personality in a different way. He's like a chess master. So there's ways we can work on that and absolutely need to," said McEnroe of the Russian, who will play Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last four in Melbourne on Friday.