WATCH: Novak Djokovic accuses umpire Mohamed Lahyani in heated exchange
Novak Djokovic’s swipe at umpire Mohamed Lahyani has caused a stir, after he accused one of the most recognisable faces in tennis of ‘acting’ in his role as chair umpire.
Holger Rune upset world No 1 Djokovic to reach the semi-finals of the Italian Open, as an unpresictable week in Rome served up another upset result.
The 20-year-old Dane came through 6-2 4-6 6-2 against the defending champion in a rain-hit encounter in the Italian captial.
Seventh seed Rune raced through the opening set in 39 minutes before Djokovic was seen to by the physio early in the second and given some medication before the weather forced play to be suspended.
Yet it was an exchange between Djokovic and umpire Lahyani that caused the biggest stir on social media platforms, as he accused the official of playing to the crowd in a heated exchange.
Djokovic was furious with the umpire’s habit of delaying his announcement of the score in Italian and then offering up the English version as he said:
“What is the drama about waiting between English and Italian,” said Djokovic.
“What are you acting here or what? Why do you call the score for 20 seconds? Just call the score. For God’s sake.”
Novak Djokovic to umpire in Holger match:
“What’s the drama of waiting between English & Italian to call the score? Are you acting here or what?”
This is comedy at its finest
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) May 17, 2023
Rune was also agitated with Lahyani’s performance during the match, as he suggested a line-call was wrong as tension rose.
“You’re an absolute joke man,” Rune told the umpire.
“Do you get punished when you make a mistake? Because when we make a mistake we get a fine. Please respect the players.”
There have been rumours that Lahyani will be included as part of the next run of the Netflix series Break Point, with his apparent eagerness to stand-out in matches a point of contention over the course of his career.
The umpire came under fire on social media after the match, with some suggesting he plays up to the cameras as steals attention away from the players on the court.
Meanwhile, Djokovic suggested he is not concerned about his form after the defeat against Rune, as he is already turning his attention to the French Open later this month.
“I know I can always play better,” said the outgoing world No 1.
“Definitely I am looking forward to working on various aspects of my game, of my body, hopefully getting myself in 100 per cent shape, that is the goal.
“I always like my chances in Grand Slams against anybody on any surface, best-of-five, so let’s see how it goes.”
Carlos Alcaraz is set to head into the French Open as the favourite to lift the title, with Djokovic’s latest defeat raising fresh questions over his physical condition after a challenging few months for the Serb.
With a growing expectation that Rafael Nadal may miss the tournament at Roland-Garros due to injury, it feels like the changing of the guard at the top of the men’s game is well underway after Rune’s beat Djokovic for a second time in Rome.
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