Rome: Top-ranked Novak Djokovic shouted at the umpire before regaining his cool to see out his rain-delayed second-round match against Taylor Fritz at the Italian Open on Tuesday.
With conditions worsening during the second set and rain getting heavier, the defending champion’s temper boiled over and he roared, “How much more do you want to play?” at the umpire. He added: “I asked you three times and you are not checking anything.”
Novak Djokovic lost his cool at the Italian Open.Credit:Getty Images
Play was then suspended for approximately three hours. Fritz held his service game after the resumption to force the tie-breaker, but Djokovic closed out the win on his first match point.
“It was a very strange match with strange conditions,” Djokovic said. “Obviously … it is challenging for both me and him.”
Last year, Djokovic was disqualified from the US Open for unintentionally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball.
Fans are being kept out of the Foro Italico during the early rounds of the tournament as part of restrictions during coronavirus pandemic, but the main arenas will be up to 25 per cent filled from the round of 16.
Nadal’s Olympic doubts
Rafael Nadal has joined the growing number of tennis players expressing doubts about competing in the Tokyo Olympics.
The third-ranked Nadal, in Rome for the Italian Open, said that his status for the Tokyo games is uncertain.
“I don’t know yet. Honestly, I can’t give you a clear answer because I don’t know,” Nadal said when asked whether he would be at the rescheduled Olympics. “I don’t know my calendar.
“In a normal world, I will never see about missing Olympics, of course. Is no doubt about that. Everybody knows how important have been for me [to] always play Olympics.
Rafael Nadal is uncertain if he will play at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.Credit:AP
“Under these circumstances, I don’t know. Let’s see what’s going on in the next couple of months. But I need to organise my schedule,” the 34-year-old Spaniard continued.
“This year is something a little bit different, no? We need to be flexible. We need to adapt about the things that are happening.”
Nadal won the singles gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and claimed gold in doubles five years ago at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
He is the latest top tennis player to voice his uncertainty about the games, which open July 23.
Four-time champion Serena Williams suggested she won’t go to Japan if coronavirus protocols mean she can’t bring her three-year-old daughter, while Japanese tennis players Kei Nishikori and Naomi Osaka have raised concerns about whether the Games should even go ahead at all.
“Of course I would say I want the Olympics to happen, because I’m an athlete and that’s sort of what I’ve been waiting for my entire life,” Osaka said. “But I think that there’s so much important stuff going on, and especially the past year.”
Japan has attributed 11,000 deaths to COVID-19, better than many countries, but poor for Asia. The virus and its spreading variants are taxing Japan’s health-care system with only 2 per cent of the population vaccinated.
Public sentiment in Japan continues to run against holding the Olympics in the middle of a pandemic. Between 60-80 per cent of Japanese people in polls have said the Olympics should be cancelled or postponed.
But local organisers and the International Olympic Committee insist the Games will open as planned.
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