Less than two weeks after getting defaulted from the US 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 on 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. With the frame broken and the strings 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.”
The top-ranked Djokovic was thrown out of the US Open for unintentionally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball in a fit of anger. After his disqualification, Djokovic said he would address his behaviour going forward.
“I need to go back within and work on my disappointment and turn this all into a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and human being,” he said at the time.
At the Foro Italico, Djokovic had already appeared frustrated during the game before he broke his racket, glaring in the direction of 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.”
The 97th-ranked Koepfer, who screamed at himself in frustration throughout the match, was also warned for misbehavior early in the third set.
Djokovic is aiming for his fifth title in Rome, and his semi-final opponent will be Casper Ruud, who eliminated local favorite Matteo Berrettini 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 in a match that lasted 2 hours, 57 minutes. Nine-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal was playing Diego Schwartzman later in the other half of the draw.
In the women’s tournament, top-seeded Simona Halep reached the last four when Kazakh opponent Yulia Putintseva retired midway through their match due to a back injury.
Halep, who lost two straight finals in Rome to Elina Svitolina in 2017 and 2018, will need to beat two-time grand slam winner Garbine Muguruza to return to the championship match. Muguruza required more than two hours to eliminate US Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.