Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Novak Djokovic Got Into It With A Fussy Chair Ump

Petr David Josek/AP Images
Petr David Josek/AP Images

Novak Djokovic’s skills were tested by the diminutive Diego Schwartzman in their third-round match at the French Open, and his patience was tested by the chair umpire, who hit him with a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct. Here’s the conduct in question:

It wasn’t the words—in Serbian, he said “4-0, again he gives 4-0,” in reference to the score in that set—but the racket gesture that triggered the warning.

“The hell is wrong with you? What’s wrong with you? What did I say? What did I say? What did I say? Why did you give me warning? What? Do you understand Serbian or what?” Djokovic asked. The umpire said he did not appreciate the way Djokovic motioned with his racket in the general direction of the chair, as if to hit a ball there. Here’s their whole exchange, which concludes with a resigned Djokovic peeling away, saying, “You’re losing your mind.”

Yes, if you squinted, maybe that gesture could be seen as very vaguely menacing. But also, maybe it would be great to abandon the pseudo-genteel trappings of this sport, and it would be nice to stop policing the honest, entertaining, and ultimately very mild emotional outbursts of these athletes under enormous pressure. (Or, if you must, at least save the outrage for the actual violent, destructive stuff.)


Anyway, the tennis was pretty good, too.

Despite balling out in the first three sets, getting into some loose and brave baseline rallies against a superior foe, Schwartzman physically gave out and took a medical timeout in the fifth to treat his back. Very few living humans are fit enough to hang with Djokovic for five sets, probably none of them are 5-foot-7, and the defending champion prevailed, 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.

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