Novak Djokovic's Poor Sportsmanship Mars US Open Semifinal Victory Saturday
When a player comes back from two sets down in a Grand Slam semifinal it should be cause for celebration. But Novak Djokovic's remarkable victory is hard to celebrate because the world's number one player resorted to poor sportsmanship to defeat Roger Federer.
You could figuratively see the steam coming out of Fed's ears as Djokovic froze him while Fed was serving for the match. You'd never see players such as Fed, John Isner, or Andy Murray interrupt their opponent that way. It's beneath them.
Djokovic did his usual stalling route throughout the match dribbling the ball over 14 times per serve -- and then slowing down more on pressure points. In the game where Fed served for the match, Djokovic also mocked the crowd and Fed by repeatedly striking his frame to ridicule the crowd cheering a great shot by Fed (Yes, Fed did frame a shot earlier in the rally.)
One reason Djokovic was able to get away with his poor sportsmanship is that the top umpires -- most of the Golden Chairs -- are boycotting the US Open over poor pay (as little as $185 a day).
You can be sure that if Mohamed Lahyani or Lars Graff was in the chair, they would have at least quieted the crowd down and shortened Djokovic's theatrics. But the chair did nothing then, and virtually nothing all match -- other than incorrectly over-ruling a fault by Djokovic -- letting Djokovic get away with his stalling and theatrics.
Djokovic's performance is yet more proof that pro tennis badly needs a 20-second clock on the court.
I'd find it hard to be proud of winning if I had to resort to dancing and strutting like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever while he was serving for the match.
Tennis prodigy Ryan Harrison said that Fed would beat Djokovic and Rafael Nadal more often if he showed more fire. Maybe Harrison is on to something (although I'd hate to see Fed throwing tantrums and racquets like Harrison). If I had been Fed, I've have lobbed an underhanded serve in, walked to the net, and told the ump since you didn't call a time out, either the ball was in play and an ace, or my opponent was delaying the match and deserves a point penalty. Which is it?
But Fed's too much of a gentleman and an old-school good sport. Djokovic is not.