On Sunday, World No.2 Novak Djokovic won his record-extending eighth Australian Open title (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2020) after defeating Dominic Thiem in a drama-filled five-setter: 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the finals. With this victory, he becomes the first man in the open era to win a Grand Slam in three different decades. WOW!
And this wasn’t any easy feat for a couple of reasons, both of which would probably crush a recreational player’s winning spirit.
For the first time ever in his career, the Serb had to climb out of a two-sets-to-one deficit in a Grand Slam final. I can’t even imagine the pressure of knowing he HAD to win the next set just to stay in the match!
But, would he have had to fight so hard had he not gotten the time violations?
While Djokovic was serving at 4-4 (30-15*) in the second set, he was given a time violation warning by chair umpire, Damien Dumusois, though, I can’t imagine why…
Just kidding… (well, not really, lol!)
Anywhoo… during that point, Novak’s drop shot did not clear the net, giving Thiem two break points at 4-4 (*15-40). In the following point, the Serb was
finally getting ready to toss the ball for his first serve, but before he could, he was popped with a second time-violation. This time, he had to forfeit his first serve, and start the point with his second serve. Subsequently, the mental frustration set up the loss of that point and then the game, making it 5-4.
During the changeover, Djokovic made his feelings known to the chair umpire, with a gesture that could end up costing him $20,000:
— Christine Vanden Byllaardt (@cvbyllaardt) February 2, 2020
Yep… just touching an umpire is considered “physical abuse” by the ATP. In the section “The Code” of the ATP official rulebook, the “Player Code Of Conduct” defines:
c) Physical Abuse
i) Players shall not at any time physically abuse any official, opponent, spectator or other person within the precincts of the tournament site. For purposes of this rule, physical abuse is the unauthorized touching of an official, opponent, and spectator or other person.
ii) Violation of this section shall subject a player to a fine up to $20,000 for each violation. In addition, if such violation occurs during a match, the player shall be penalized in accordance with the Point Penalty Schedule. In circumstances that are flagrant and particularly injurious to the success of a tournament, or are singularly egregious, the ATP Supervisor may refer the matter to the ATP EVP-Rules & Competition who shall conduct an investigation to determine whether the player Major Offense of Aggravated Behavior or Conduct Contrary to the Integrity of the Game has occurred. Prize money earned at that event shall be held by ATP until the ATP EVP-Rules & competition has concluded his investigation and made a determination.
This anger and frustration ended up costing him not just one, but TWO sets, but being the champion that he is, he caught himself before it was too late. He found his mojo and point by point, won the next 2 sets and the championship.
Later in the post-match presser, Djokovic clarified that it was a friendly gesture from him, he did not intend to ‘physically abuse’ the chair umpire.
“For touching his shoe? I mean, I didn’t know that’s completely forbidden and thought it was a nice really friendly touch (smiling). I wasn’t aggressive with him in terms of physical abuse and just couldn’t believe that I got the time violation. It kind of disturbed me. That’s all there is to it. Verbally we did have some exchanges, but no insults because if I did insult him, I would get a warning. Right now that you tell me that, I want to thank him for not giving me a warning for touching him. That’s all I can say.”
Sunday’s stressful win put Novak Djokovic back on top of the ATP Tour. The Serb has already spent 276 weeks at No. 1, which is the third-highest total. Roger Federer leads the record of total weeks in the No. 1 spot with 310 weeks, followed by Pete Sampras and his 286 weeks.
Currently, World No. 1 Djokovic has a slight lead over World No. 2 Rafael Nadal with 325 ATP points.