Novak Djokovic clashed with the crowd and almost hit a group of ball kids after he swiped a loose ball toward them in his US Open quarterfinal
- Novak Djokovic renewed his ill-tempered relationship with the US Open crowd in his quarterfinal win.
- The Serbian player twice raised his finger to his ear and frequently glared at the New York crowd.
- In a separate incident, Djokovic almost re-created his expulsion from the 2020 US Open.
Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 men's player, renewed his battle against the US Open crowd during his quarterfinal victory, and he almost re-created the incident that got him thrown out of last year's tournament.
The three-time winner defeated Matteo Berrettini 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the semifinals and continue his quest for the calendar slam.
But he received little adulation from the New York crowd, with whom he's clashed before.
During the first set, the crowd cheered loudly every time Djokovic over hit a shot, and it seemed to rattle the three-time US Open winner.
Annoyed by the lack of support, Djokovic raised his finger to his ear during the first set.
Having saved a break point, Djokovic stood and stared into the crowd. While it's unclear whether he was directing his anger at one particular crowd member, his gaze appeared to stay in the same place for a while.
This wasn't the only incident during the first set. Later in that game, Djokovic pumped his arms up and down, signaling he wanted more noise from the crowd.
Later, having recovered from a set down to tie the match, he again pushed his ear forward, signaling he was still unhappy with the amount of support he was receiving.
It was a difficult evening for Djokovic, who again had to bounce back from losing the first set, just as he did in his last two matches. After tying the match at one set all, Djokovic cruised to victory, winning the next three sets 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.
Djokovic is aiming to become the first male player to win every Grand Slam in a year since 1969, but an incident in the fourth set almost jeopardized that.
In a moment of frustration, Djokovic hit an out-of-play ball across the court toward the umpire's chair, narrowly missing a group of ball kids standing at the side of the court.
Had the ball hit either the ball kids or the umpire, Djokovic would likely have suffered the same fate he did at the 2020 US Open, when he was booted from the tournament over hitting a line judge with an errant swipe.
John McEnroe, a four-time US Open champion who was providing commentary on the match for ESPN, referenced the incident and told Djokovic to "get his act together."
"Be a little bit careful smacking tennis balls around in random directions," the ESPN commentator Chris Fowler added.
Djokovic is set to face Olympic champion Alexander Zverev, who defeated him in Tokyo, in the semifinals on Friday.
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