Oh I say! Djokovic survives meltdown to close on semi-final date with Federer

By Malcolm Folley

Novak Djokovic offered a passable imitation of Basil Fawlty as he destroyed his racket by repeatedly smashing it into the Centre Court turf.

At the end, the 15,000 crowd rose to salute Djokovic and Marcos Baghdatis for a match of charm as well as moments of sheer drama… and violence.

Beneath Djokovic's chair, his twisted racket told its own story. The world No 2 had been pushed beyond the limits of his patience by his mistakes and Baghdatis's counter-punching. Djokovic took three swipes at the ground with his racket, each one more angry than the last.

Moment of madness: Novak Djokovic has a fit of rage in his victory over Marcos Baghdatis

Moment of madness: Novak Djokovic has a fit of rage in his victory over Marcos Baghdatis



66 1st serve % 53
75 Win % on 1st serve 73
57 Win % on 2nd serve 53
10 Aces 14
4 Double faults 4
38 Winners (inc serve) 40
33 Unforced errors 22
126 Fastest serve (mph) 129
3 Break points won 1

'My temper is my temper,' he said. 'Why three times? I like to make sure!'

For most of this year, Djokovic has been the perfect sportsman as he has won tournaments around the world. The 24-year-old Serb won the Australian Open in Melbourne in January, then jetted to Dubai, Indian Wells in California, Miami, Belgrade, Madrid, and, finally, Rome, with the same outcome at each.

In four months, Djokovic won 41 successive matches, one short of equalling John McEnroe's record start to a season in the early Eighties.

Then he encountered the brilliance of Roger Federer a the French Open semi-final at the start of this month.

In the hat: Novak Djokovic continued his fine form in 2011

Job well done: Djokovic continued his fine form in 2011

Instead of a broken record, Djokovic yesterday held a broken racket. Perhaps his ambition to make an impact at Wimbledon, where he was a semi-finalist for a second time last summer, crowded his mind. Perhaps frustration at the possibility of another marathon with Baghdatis, who withstood his game for five hours before he was beaten by him at Wimbledon four years ago, caused him to take leave of his senses.

Novak Djokovic
Marcos Baghdatis

Entertaining encounter: Djokovic (left) and Marcos Baghdatis put on a show for the crowd at Centre Court

Whatever, Djokovic lost the plot as Baghdatis took control of the second set.

Ultimately, Djokovic had a game that Baghdatis could not repel. But the Greek Cypriot left with his head held high and the applause of the crowd ringing in his ears. Djokovic said: 'It was frustrating and I did lose my temper. I missed a lot from the baseline, which is why I got so frustrated. In my case it does help to get my frustration out sometimes.'

Acrobatic: Baghdatis was in typically ebullient mood

Acrobatic: Baghdatis was in typically ebullient mood

He can expect the maximum $1,000 fine after being warned for racket abuse by umpire James Keothavong, brother of British tennis player Anne.

'I wasn't moving well and I didn't feel that great,' he said. 'But credit Marcos for playing well.'