Novak Djokovic was left fuming at the chair umpire and booed by the crowd at the Monte Carlo Masters after a controversial call went against him in his shock loss to Lorenzo Musetti on Thursday. The World No.1 was dumped out of the clay-court tournament by his Italian opponent, going down 6-4 5-7 4-6.
Playing in his first tournament in five weeks after being barred from entering the United States for last month's events at Indian Wells and Miami, Djokovic suffered the surprise loss in the second round - ending his quest for a record-extending 39th Masters 1000 trophy. And the match didn't come without controversy, after Djokovic was dudded by a brutal umpiring mistake in the second set.
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Leading 4-3 in the set after winning the first, Djokovic appeared well on his way to a straight-sets victory. However he lost a pivotal point that he should have won when Musetti hit a forehand long, before the line judge called it in.
Djokovic was sure the ball was long and asked chair umpire Aurelie Tourte to come down and check the mark, but was left further incensed when she declared she could see a mark on the line. Incredulous, Djokovic pleaded with the umpire to see the mark he was seeing, which suggested the ball was out.
However the call stood, and Djokovic was booed and jeered by spectators for arguing so long. To make matters worse, replays confirmed the ball was actually out and Djokovic was right.
Clay-court tournaments don't use Hawk Eye and still rely on human line judges to make calls. Because of the nature of the surface, chair umpires can usually overrule calls by looking at the mark left by the ball on the court.
But on this occasion the system showed its flaws, with Djokovic robbed of a crucial point. Fans and commentators blasted the farcical situation on social media, with leading tennis reporter Jose Morgado declaring Djokovic had been 'screwed' by the umpires.
— Alessandro 🎾 (@alevilla1978) April 13, 2023
Clay court tennis is a joke. No roof, no lights and no Hawkeye. Worst time of the year for tennis.
— Michael (@mnoobs22) April 13, 2023
This was awful. Truly awful.
— Toussaint Crawford DDS, FICOI (@SaintCrawford) April 13, 2023
I’m Italian and honestly this was Nole’s point because the ball was out. Ridiculous
— Arianna (@AriannaTenisci) April 13, 2023
Very bad call.
— Declan (@DeclanSTB) April 13, 2023
Lorenzo Musetti over the moon after Novak Djokovic upset
Musetti went on to win the game to make it 4-4, before taking the second set to send it to a decider. A lengthy break in play due to rain appeared to affect Djokovic, and Musetti once again took advantage of a weak serving performance from the World No.1 to break and take the win.
Djokovic, who won the Monte Carlo title in 2013 and 2015, managed to save three match points in the third before eventually falling to the World No.21 in a thrilling contest that lasted two hours and 54 minutes. “I am struggling not to cry,” Musetti said in his on-court interview.
“It is an emotional win because it was a really long match. Three-hour match and suspended by rain.
“It was not easy conditions because it was a little bit windy and cold – not like we used to play in the recent days. I am really proud of myself. I am struggling not to cry because it is a dream for me. Beating Novak is something remarkable for me."
Djokovic was in a frosty mood in his post-match press conference, saying: “I don’t think it’s catastrophic, but my feeling is bad right now because I lost the match. That’s all. Congrats to my opponent. I move on.
“Well, my feeling is terrible after playing like this, honestly, but congrats to him. He stayed tough in important moments, and that’s it. That’s all I can say. Good luck to him.
“You always hope for the good day in the office, but yeah, I know I’m not playing so great and he’s playing very well, so I knew it was going to be a tough match.”
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