Victorious Novak Djokovic to umpire: ‘You’re losing your mind’
“You’re losing your mind,” Novak Djokovic bluntly told an umpire Friday as the Serb skirmished with officialdom at the French Open.
However, the former world No. 1’s heated exchange with umpire Carlos Ramos seemed to serve Djokovic well in a five-set comeback win against Diego Schwartzman.
Djokovic was unhappy for being docked a first serve for taking too long while serving at 4-0 in the fourth set and given a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct later in the same game.
He glared at Ramos, uttered something in Serbian and gestured with his racket, before approaching the umpire to question the status of the official’s sanity.
But far from throwing off Djokovic’s concentration, the defending champion stepped it up and progressed to the fourth round with a 5-7 6-3 3-6 6-1 6-1 win to no doubt please new coach Andre Agassi. Agassi said he is — by his own choice — working with Djokovic for free.
So close to authoring a first victory over top-10 opposition on his 13th attempt, the 41st-ranked Schwartzman ultimately offered little resistance in the final two sets.
Indeed the fourth and fifth sets were a complete contrast to the intense first three.
Argentinian Schwartzman was clearly rattled after blowing a 40-0 lead in his first service game of the fourth and then took a medical timeout for a back injury in the fifth.
Nevertheless it was a tough day at the office for Djokovic, especially when considering his two main rivals in the bottom half of the draw, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem, mostly breezed.
Nadal — bidding for a 10th French Open title — crushed Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-0 6-1 6-0 on the eve of his 31st birthday. The Spaniard has now contested 100 best-of-five set matches on clay, winning a remarkable 98 times.
Thiem defeated American Steve Johnson — who was playing weeks after the death of his father — 6-1 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.
But David Goffin, one of the form players of the clay-court swing, was forced to retire at 5-4 in the first set against Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos when he injured his ankle sliding into a tarp at the back of the court. It is thus Zeballos, not Belgium’s Goffin, who will face Thiem in the fourth round.
Goffin couldn’t attend the habitual post-match press conference. His coach Thierry van Cleemput did and when he was asked if he was angry with the tournament for having the tarp on the court, he replied: “I don’t think that this event will be followed by no consequences. There will be consequences. The decisions will be to have a safer court.”
Relief for home fans
The home fans breathed a sigh of relief when Kristina Mladenovic, one of the favorites in the women’s draw, escaped from a 5-2 hole in the third set to beat 2016 quarterfinalist Shelby Rogers 7-5 4-6 8-6.
“Yeah, that was epic,” Mladenovic told reporters. “I think that’s the word I’m going to use today, because I still don’t know how I won that match.”
Hindered by a back injury, Mladenovic had trailed another American, Jennifer Brady, 3-0 in the final set in the first round.
Mladenovic is arguably France’s top hope in either singles draw, having reached finals in Stuttgart and Madrid.
Venus Williams and 2009 Roland Garros champion Svetlana Kuznetsova were among those who also advanced.