‘Go home’: Sydney tennis crowd crosses the line
CHAIR umpire Carlos Bernardes scolded a raucous pro-Serbian crowd during that country's ATP Cup quarter-final against Canada in Sydney, telling spectators to "go home" if they didn't want to watch the tennis.
Things got incredibly heated at Ken Rosewall Arena as Novak Djokovic defeated Denis Shapovalov 4-6 6-1 7-6 (7-4) in an electric and emotional second singles rubber that gave Serbia an unassailable 2-0 lead in the tie.
So often on the receiving end of crowd taunts when playing fellow big guns Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, this time Djokovic enjoyed all the support in what felt like a home match as Shapovalov lost his cool and swore at Serbian fans who were giving him hell midway through the second set.
As Djokovic kicked his game up several gears, the crowd simultaneously cheered him and booed Shapovalov, who turned to the stands and swore, complaining to Bernardes that people were "making noise during the point".
The 20-year-old's profanity drew a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct and he confronted the chair umpire, but stormed off when Bernardes tried to tell him he couldn't respond to the crowd, no matter how inappropriate some spectators were being.
Canada's captain then approached Bernardes, and the umpire laid things out.
"If somebody said something to him (Shapovalov), tell him to tell me - we'll take the person from the court," Bernardes said.
"If he looks at the crowd like he did before, and says 'f*** you', I give a code (violation) for that, unsportsmanlike conduct.
"Tell him to not go with them (the crowd)."
Shapovalov was fighting but the crowd kept heckling and, eventually, Bernardes had seen and heard enough.
"This is a tennis game. The most important thing for all of us is respect," he told the crowd.
"If you don't want to watch tennis, go home. Don't disturb those who are here to watch tennis."
Shapovalov was clearly affected but tried to shrug off the feeling everyone was against him, raising his arms and encouraging the crowd to come at him with everything it had.
Shapovalov won the first set 6-4, but Djokovic bounced back to claim the second 6-1 and send the match to a decider.
Djokovic received a code violation for an audible obscenity midway through the third set and blew up at Bernardes as the tension on both sides of the net kept rising.
When the world No. 2 held serve to make it 3-3, he roared and urged the crowd to get even louder.
With the score locked at 5-5, Bernardes again jumped in, telling those in the stands to "respect the players".
The deciding set went to a tiebreak and Djokovic zoomed to a 4-0 lead as Shapovalov complained once more he was being heckled when serving.
Ultimately, the 16-time major champion was too strong and sent Serbia into the semi-finals against Russia.
Serbia took a 1-0 lead earlier when Dusan Lajovic piled more misery on Canadian young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime with a resounding 6-4 6-2 win.
After opening the competition with victory over Greek world No.486 Michail Pervolarakis, Auger-Aliassime, rated one of the hottest prospects in tennis, has failed to win a set in his past three matches, against John Millman, Jan-Lennard Struff and Lajovic.