Djokovic loses his cool again during win at Italian Open

When Novak Djokovic was broken at love to even the second set at 3-3, he slammed his racket to the red clay in anger and received a warning from the chair umpire.

Novak Djokovic lost his cool during his quarterfinal match at the Italian Open.   -  Getty Images

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 quarterfinals 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 all mangled, Djokovic was forced to get a new racket and received a warning from the chair umpire.

Djokovic had already appeared frustrated the previous game, when he glared toward the umpire following a couple of overrules and a point that was ordered to be replayed.

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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.”

The 97th-ranked Koepfer, who screamed at himself in frustration throughout the match, was also warned for misbehavior early in the third set.

Aiming for his fifth title in Rome, Djokovic’s semifinal opponent will be Casper Ruud, who eliminated local favorite Matteo Berrettini 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) 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.

Ruud is the first Norwegian to reach the semifinals of a Masters 1000 tournament. His father, Christian Ruud, got as far as the quarterfinals of the Monte Carlo Masters in 1997.

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.

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 lower back injury.

"Azarenka is full of confidence because she played really well in U.S. She was amazing. And Muguruza, as well, she feels really well on (the) clay court and here. It’s a big challenge,” Halep said.

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"I really want to win this tournament,” added Halep, who will be playing her fifth semifinal in Rome. “I love playing here. ... It’s one of the biggest goals now.”

The 30th-ranked Putintseva was coming off two long three-set matches, having upset eighth-seeded Petra Martic and 10th-seeded Elena Rybakina. Entering the match, she had been on court for 7 hours, 22 minutes -- far more than Halep, who had a bye in the opening round and won her next two matches in straight sets.

Putintseva also reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals in her previous tournament, while Halep decided to skip the event in New York due to coronavirus travel concerns.

'I'm not perfect' - Djokovic

“Well, let me tell you it’s not the first nor the last racket that I’ll break in my career,” Djokovic, 33, told reporters.

“I have done it before, 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. I don’t encourage that, definitely. But, look, we’re all people. We all do our best. There were times and periods when I don’t do that, and there are periods when I do,” he said.

Djokovic was disqualified from the US Open after inadvertently hitting a ball into a line judge’s throat during his fourth-round match against Pablo Carreno Busta.

Djokovic, who apologised at the time and vowed to take away valuable lessons from the incident, reiterated that he was working on his “mental and emotional health” to try and help keep a lid on his emotions.

“It’s always been part of my, I guess, training and recovery, as well, developing strong character and understanding myself on different levels, holistic approach to life,” the 17-time Slam champion said.

“That’s just me. Of course I’m not perfect. I’m doing my best.”

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