Djokovic loses cool, wins match against Fritz in Rome rain
ROME (AP) — 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.”
Djokovic, who has won the Italian Open five times, went on to beat the American 6-3, 7-6 (5).
“I was stressed out in the end obviously, but I think it was the right call to stop the match,” Djokovic said. “When I came back, I thought we were quite even actually till the last point.
“I’m glad that I managed to finish off this match in straight sets. I know I can play better.”
Djokovic, back in action after sitting out the Masters tournament in Madrid, was leading by a set and a break but was unable to serve out at 5-4 in the second.
Play was then suspended for approximately three hours. Fritz held his service game after the resumption to force the tiebreaker, 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.
“I thought that I had an advantage there because the conditions were slower which allows me to return his serves, because he’s got really big serves,” Djokovic continued. “So I kind of kept the match under my control for most part of the two sets, then served for the match. Very sloppy service game. He played well, made a great passing shot to come back.”
Last year, Djokovic was disqualified from the U.S. Open for unintentionally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball.
Djokovic will next play a qualifier in either Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who upset 16th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 7-6 (2), or Cameron Norrie.
Daniil Medvedev’s scheduled showdown with fellow Russian Aslan Karatsev was among the matches postponed Tuesday.
Earlier, ninth-seeded Matteo Berrettini rallied to beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 — less than 48 hours after losing the final in Madrid. Fellow Italian Lorenzo Sonego also advanced, celebrating his birthday by beating 14th-seeded Gael Monfils 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
Kei Nishikori was handed a walkover in his second-round match against 11th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta. Eighth-seeded Diego Schwartzman was beaten 6-1, 6-3 by Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, who moves into the third round.
In the women’s tournament, former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko ousted 16th-seeded Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-1 and Kristina Mladenovic upset 10th-seeded Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4.
Madison Keys rallied to win an all-American derby against Sloane Stephens 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.
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% filled from the round of 16.
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