Novak Djokovic has courted more controversy at the Italian Open, copping an audible obscenity warning during an angry battle with the chair umpire.
Exactly two weeks after he was defaulted from the US Open and one day after he was warned by the chair umpire for breaking his racquet in a fit of rage, Djokovic received a code violation for swearing midway through a 7-5, 6-3 win over Casper Ruud in the Italian Open semi-finals.
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The obscenity came in the third game of the second set after Djokovic had a running battle with the chair umpire over a series of contested calls.
The World No.1 was fuming with the umpire after it appeared as though he was dudded by a number of close line calls.
“I deserved the warning,” Djokovic said after the match. “I didn't say nice things in my language.
“I had a couple of disputes with the chair umpire with those calls.
“As I understood, I was three out of three right, but doesn't matter. Everybody makes mistakes. It's fine.
“It was a kind of the heat of the battle. There is a lot of intensity on the court. A lot of pressure for him, for both players. It's kind of whatever happens, happens.”
As opposed to his previous two outbursts, this time there were fans in the stands who could clearly hear how Djokovic dealt with his frustration.
With 1000 spectators allowed in to the Foro Italico for the first time this week, a large proportion of those in attendance were children.
“I don't want to do it, but when it comes, it happens,” Djokovic said on Saturday.
“That's how I, I guess, release sometimes my anger. And it's definitely not the best message out there, especially for the young tennis players looking at me. I don't encourage that - definitely.”
Djokovic: Second time. Same ball as there. The ball is NOT touching. There's a space here. I don't understand where you see it touching the line.— Oleg S. (@AnnaK_4ever) September 20, 2020
Nour: I can't see the space. I can't see the space.
Djokovic: You are unbelievable. pic.twitter.com/czNrpRHBcn
Fans erupt over ‘disgusting’ Djokovic treatment
Fans were heavily divided on social media, with many slamming the umpire and media’s treatment of the under-fire star.
This man has a problem— Ajay Kamath (@ajay43) September 20, 2020
I understand he’s been getting some bad line calls, but it seems like every match he plays now he finds something to complain about.— Luke Basile (@LbrBasile) September 20, 2020
Nah. He’s not doing anything other players aren’t, but when Novak does it, it’s highlighted. For a reason, of course. They can’t stop this guy, no matter how much they try🤭👑— anna12345 (@anna12345marko) September 20, 2020
He is that kind of a fellow .... no matter how many grand slams he would win, he will never earn the kind of respect that rofmger and rafa earns...— AB84 🇮🇳 (@badyalarpan) September 20, 2020
Calm down Djokovic— Golu Gupta ISBP (@GoluMoluGupta) September 20, 2020
Ruud was Nick Kyrgios' opponent during last year's Italian Open when the Australian walked off the court and threw a chair onto the red clay, leading to him being defaulted and fined.
“Some players, or especially Djokovic, (are) very passionate,” Ruud said.
“Some players just by nature can show more emotions than other ones. That's part of the game.”
Djokovic's behaviour once again overshadowed his performance, in a match where he had to save two set points when Ruud served for the first set at 5-4 - one of them with a delicate backhand drop-shot winner.
The top-ranked Djokovic also served five aces in a single game to take a 6-5 lead in the first.
Djokovic improved to 30-1 this year. His only loss came when he was thrown out of the US Open for unintentionally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball during his fourth-round match against Pablo Carreno Busta.
He will face Diego Schwartzman in the final after the Argentine stunned Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals, before beating Denis Shapovalov in the semis.
Halep and Pliskova in women’s final
In the women's final, top-seeded Simona Halep will face second-seeded Karolina Pliskova, the defending champion.
Halep reached her third Rome final by beating Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to improve her record in tennis' restart to 9-0.
Pliskova defeated fellow Czech and last year's French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova 6-2, 6-4.
Muguruza struggled with her serve and double faulted on the final two points of the 2 hour, 16-minute match.
Halep lost to Elina Svitolina in the 2017 and 2018 finals.
“I'm not playing (Svitolina), so I have a plus,” Halep said.
“I have just to manage it a little bit better than previous years. ... Now I'm more mature. So let's hope that I can be better tomorrow and to win it.”
with Associated Press