Tennis, Novak Djokovic vs Andrey Rublev, Serbia Open final, racquet throw, ball boy video

Vision has emerged of an ugly moment in Novak Djokovic’s meltdown at the Serbia Open, showing he still doesn’t get it.

Video of an ugly moment in Novak Djokovic’s Serbia Open loss to Russia’s Andrey Rublev on Monday morning shows the World No. 1 hasn’t learned how to control his racquet.

The Serbian superstar apologised after declaring he “ran out of gas” in a three sets defeat to Rublev in the final of the tournament.

Second seed Rublev won 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 6-0, denying Djokovic his first title of the year.

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The Belgrade event in his hometown was only Djokovic’s third of 2022 after he was deported from Melbourne — and denied the chance to defend his Australian Open title — after entering the country unvaccinated.

He is again attracting criticism after he appeared to send his racquet at a ball boy standing to the side of the net after losing a point in the final.

The video shows the ball boy had to dodge to avoid the racquet that was thrown from well behind the baseline.

For a player with a poor history of racquet abuse, it was not a good look.

Djokovic walked to the net after the incident and was handed his racquet by the ball boy who dodged it.

An alternative angle appears to show the racquet throw could have simply been an innocent mistake as he swung at Rublev’s ground stroke.

Djokovic has a long history of causing outrage with acts of racquet abuse.

At the Tokyo Olympics last year he hurled his racquet into the empty stands and smashed another on a net post as he was beaten by Pablo Carreno Busta in the bronze medal match.

He was also famously defaulted at the 2020 US Open when he was kicked out of the tournament for throwing his racquet towards a line judge.

Meanwhile, the 20-time grand slam champion is more worried about his lack of physical form as he heads towards the French Open as the reigning champion.

“Things are progressing slowly but surely, Paris is the big goal and hopefully by Paris I’ll be ready,” said the two-time Serbia Open winner.

The 34-year-old, who lost in the quarter-finals in Dubai and suffered a shock second-round defeat in Monte Carlo, battled past Laslo Djere, Miomir Kecmanovic and Karen Khachanov in three sets before the court time caught up with the top seed against Rublev.

He also said sorry for his collapse and suggested the “illness” that hit him recently may still be taking its toll.

“I apologise because of the way the third set unfolded. It’s an individual sport, when something fails, the engine can’t work,” Djokovic said.

“It’s a bit worrisome, I can only assume it’s because of the illness that hit me a few weeks ago. But I have to look at the positives, I’ve won three matches from a set down.

“I have to look at the positives, playing the final in front of my home crowd, it was unfortunate that in the third set I ran out of gas and couldn’t deliver more of a fight.

“After four three-set battles I can say that I am tired but also pleased that I managed to win the matches prior to this one.

“I think that will serve me for the continuation of the clay court season.”

Djokovic got off to a bad start, dropping serve twice, to lose the first set after half an hour.

Buoyed by the support of the 8000-strong crowd, Djokovic fought back in a marathon second set which lasted just over an hour, levelling in the tiebreak despite wasting six set points, before running out of steam in the third.

Rublev captured his third title of the season, days after blasting Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players as “complete discrimination”.

Wimbledon banned all Russian and Belarusian players from this summer’s Grand Slam tournament due to the invasion of Ukraine.

It was a decision condemned by the ATP and WTA as well as a host of players including Djokovic who described the sanction as “crazy”.

Rublev has now equalled Spaniard Rafael Nadal for the most tour-level titles in 2022, having also clinched crowns in Marseille and Dubai in February.

“He was for sure not in his high level, maybe middle level,” said Rublev of Djokovic.

“In the third set I was really lucky that he couldn’t break me and that he was really tired.”

— with AFP

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