US Open: Djokovic miffed at ‘unfair’ shot clock start

Novak Djokovic complained that the shot clock was being started much earlier at the US Open

Novak Djokovic has been denied entry into Australia

Novak Djokovic extended his winning streak in 2020 to 24-0 as he defeated Bosnian Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 in the first round of the US Open. But the World No 1 looked visibly upset about the way the shot clock was being used at the Grand Slam.

At the 2020 US Open, which is being played in a bubble due to Coronavirus and behind closed doors, the players are supposed to pick up their own towels, without the help of ballkids.

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At the US Open tune-up event – the relocated Cincinnati Masters—the chair umpires were giving players a little leeway, starting the 25-second countdown after the players had reached their bench for the towel.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case at the US Open, where the umpires are starting the shot clock much earlier.

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Damien Dumusois, who was the chair umpire for Djokovic’s opening match, said that the pace was intentionally quicker for the major. To which Djokovic replied, “You do it here different? Why? There is no explanation? Thanks for letting us know.”

After the match, Djokovic told the media, “No one really brought it to my attention. The lack of communication is something that worries me once again. I mean, that’s something that really upset me.”

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“We’ve played in the certain tempo, so to say; got used to it during the Western & Southern tournament, which just ended two days ago,” said the Serb, who won the Cincinnati Masters on Saturday.

“Two days later, we have a different rule that was just not communicated to us. That’s something that I found just not acceptable, not fair.”

Last week, reportedly frustrated at the ATP’s lack of communication and decision-making, Djokovic resigned from his position as the ATP Player Council president. He, and Vasek Pospisil, have formed a breakaway body called the Professional Tennis Players Association.

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But none of the off-court matters seemed to have any impact on Djokovic’s game, as he continued to motor ahead. Having started the season by winning the Australian Open, Djokovic seemed to shrug off the five-month hiatus forced by the pandemic and win the Cincinnati Masters – his first event on return.

“Do I want to keep the streak going? Of course, I do,” said the 17-time Slam champion of his unbeaten 24-0 start. “Am I thinking about it as a priority No. 1 every single day? No.”

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“It’s there, and of course it’s an additional motivation for me,” he added. “It actually fuels me to play even stronger, play even better, I think, bring the right intensity every match.”