Djokovic dramatically spits the dummy
WORLD No.2 Novak Djokovic has overcome one of his fiercest rivals in an epic three-match victory (7-1 5-7 6-3) in Sydney, sending Serbia to Sunday's ATP Cup Final.
The two-and-a-half hour clash against Russia's Daniil Medvedev gave Serbia an unassailable 2-0 lead in the semi final tie, with the doubles match still to come before Australia and Spain go head-to-head in the evening session.
After dominating the opening set 6-1, Djokovic slowly lost his composure, conceding an early 4-1 deficit in the second.
The conditions were hot and humid in Sydney, with Djokovic at one stage bent over in immense discomfort, desperately gasping for air after a particularly gruelling 31-stoke rally.
Soon after, the Serbian lost his cool and dramatically spat the dummy in an explosive outburst, repeatedly smashing his innocent racquet on the court.
Once he had calmed himself, Djokovic was left to clean up the mess he had created.
Djokovic was pretty much flawless for 40 minutes in what was looking like a real statement from him, but Medvedev won a very important 2nd game of the set and Djokovic lost a bit his rythm since then. Four consecutive games for Daniil but just one break up in the 2nd.— José Morgado (@josemorgado) January 11, 2020
In bizarre scenes, Djokovic used a towel to wipe the pieces of graphite and fibreglass lying on the court before play could continue.
Tantrums and dummy spits have become common practice during the inaugural tournament.
On Thursday, Medvedev made headlines when he twice smashed the umpire's chair with his racquet during his quarter-final singles match against Argentina.
Soon after Djokovic's outburst, the world No.2 broke back, the set seemingly destined for a tie-break. However, Medvedev stunned his opponent, breaking back to claim the second set 7-5.
The vocal Sydney crowd were right behind Djokovic as he broke serve in a nail-biting game, taking a 3-2 lead in the decisive third set.
Serving for the win, Djokovic closed out the final set 6-3 after an enthralling series of rallies, sending Team Serbia to the final. Medvedev thrice had an opportunity to break, but couldn't muster another comeback.
Djokovic collapsed to the floor after finally achieving the much-needed win, arms spread in exhaustion and relief.
After the match, 32-year-old Djokovic called the encounter "enthralling" but also "exhausting", having already spent three gruelling hours on the court on Friday.
Djokovic now holds a 4-2 record against the 2019 US Open finalist after winning each of their past three encounters.
Earlier, teammate Dusan Lajovic won his singles match against Russia's Karen Khachanov in straight sets (7-5 7-6). The upset handed Team Serbia at 1-0 lead in the tie, with Lajovic defeating a player ranked 17 spots above him on the ATP rankings.
During a peculiar series of events in the second set, Khachanov asked a member of the crowd to move a distracting handbag out of sight.
Djokovic earlier pulled out of the inaugural Adelaide International, which starts on Sunday.
Team Serbia will face either Spain or Australia in Sunday's must-win ATP Cup final tie.