Novak Djokovic damages racket in fit of anger during Italian Open quarter-finals
Top-ranked player given warning from chair umpire after recent U.S. Open outburst
Less than two weeks after getting defaulted from the U.S. Open, Novak Djokovic lost his cool again midway through a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over German qualifier Dominik Koepfer in the Italian Open quarter-finals Saturday.
When Djokovic was broken at love to even the second set at 3-3, he slammed his racket to the red clay in anger in Rome.
With the frame broken and the strings all mangled, Djokovic was forced to get a new racket and received a warning from the chair umpire.
"It's not the first nor the last racket that I'll break in my career," Djokovic said. "I've done it before and I'll probably do it again. I don't want to do it but when it comes, it happens.
"That's how, I guess, I release sometimes my anger and it's definitely not the best message out there, especially for the young tennis players looking at me, and I don't encourage that — definitely."
WATCH | Djokovic loses his temper yet again:
The top-ranked Djokovic had said Monday that he learned "a big lesson" after he was thrown out of the U.S. Open for unintentionally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball in a fit of anger. Djokovic also acknowledged then "that I have outbursts and this is kind of the personality and the player that I have always been."
At the Foro Italico, Djokovic had already appeared frustrated during the game before he broke his racket, glaring toward the umpire following a couple of overrules and a point that was ordered to be replayed.
"That's just me," Djokovic said. "Of course I'm not perfect and I'm doing my best."
WATCH | Novak Djokovic hits line judge with ball at U.S. Open:
Ruud 1st Norwegian to reach semis of Masters 1000 tourney
The 97th-ranked Koepfer, who screamed at himself in frustration throughout the match, was also warned for misbehaviour early in the third set.
Aiming for his fifth title in Rome, Djokovic's semifinal opponent will be Casper Ruud, who eliminated local favourite Matteo Berrettini 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in a match that lasted two hours 57 minutes.
Ruud is the first Norwegian to reach the semifinals of a Masters 1000 tournament. His father, Christian Ruud, got as far as the quarter-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters in 1997.
Shapovalov into semis
The other semifinal will feature No. 12 seed Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., against No. 8 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.
Shapovalov edged No. 15 seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, while Schwartzman upset clay court specialist and world No. 2 Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-5.
WATCH | Shapovalov's 100th win sends him into semis:
While fans have not been admitted to the tournament yet — Italy's sports minister said Friday that 1,000 spectators will be allowed in for the semifinals and finals — workers, family members and other onlookers inside the picturesque Pietrangeli stadium provided some support for Berrettini, who is from Rome.
Nicola Pietrangeli, the 1957 and 1961 Rome champion and the man the stadium is named after, was also among those sitting on the white marble stands.
"There would have been a lot more adrenaline with fans," Berrettini said.