The world’s number one men’s tennis player, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, has apologized after he lost his cool with the umpire during Tuesday’s Italian Open match with Taylor Fritz, which was suspended due to rain shortly after.
American player Fritz, the conqueror of British number one Dan Evans in the previous round, levelled the second set at a score of 5-5 when spits of rain began to fall – prompting an irate Djokovic to petition the umpire to stop play.
“How much more do you wanna play?” Djokovic raged at the umpire, before seeking refuge from the elements in the tunnel.
Fritz, meanwhile, remained seated courtside, apparently hoping for the match to proceed uninterrupted as he sought to make the most of the momentum he had generated.
The umpire informed Djokovic that he “wanted to check the court” before making a decision to suspend the contest.
“I asked you three times!” Djokovic shot back. “You’re not checking anything!“
The match was eventually suspended minutes later.
The occasionally controversial Djokovic has hit the headlines numerous times in the past year. He courted controversy last summer for his part in arranging the controversial Adria Tour tennis tournament during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic which was ultimately canceled after several players – Djokovic included – tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
That outburst by Djokovic is unacceptable, other players would have had a warning ! He should be ashamed of himself. Taylor deserves to win
— Lou Lou (@InglisLou) May 11, 2021
Loses his cool yet again.. he behaves like a spoiled child when he is displeased in court. Unacceptable.
— Denise Johnson (@dljohnsoncalif) May 11, 2021
Just three months ago, he again found himself in the news for all the wrong reasons after he angrily smashed his racket during a match at the Australian Open.
He was also disqualified from last year’s US Open after he struck a ball in anger which connected with the head of a lineswoman.
Djokovic referenced the umpire incident in his post-match comments, saying: “It’s not the first time or probably the last that I’m going to experience such conditions.
“And even with that much experience behind me, I still get upset and lose my cool. But it’s OK. At the end of the day, these are great lessons – I will try and take away some important things from this day.”
As much as Djokovic explained his actions, they didn’t go down too well with some fans of the sport.
“That outburst by Djokovic is unacceptable. Other players would have had a warning – he should be ashamed of himself,” wrote one fan online, while another accused the all-time great of acting like a “spoiled child when he is displeased on the court.”
A third called for harsh action to be taken and an example to be made that on-court outbursts are unacceptable.
“Kick him out of the ATP Tour,” they wrote.