Roger Federer once called out Novak Djokovic’s parents back in 2008. One of his ‘angry outbursts’ has been recalled by Tracy Austin. The pair faced off in the semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters 14 years ago when, in a rare moment of frustration, the Swiss maestro turned to the Serbian’s mum and dad in the crowd and asked them to ‘be quiet’.
In an article on Tennis.com, two-time US Open winner Austin recalled some of the things she will miss most about Federer now he has retired from the game. She then recalled the events of the pair’s eighth meeting on the hallowed Monaco clay courts.
“I will miss Roger Federer’s angry outbursts because they were few and far between, which makes them that much more memorable,” the American wrote. “They proved that Federer is not a human smiley-face icon blessed with genius, but subject to the same emotions, moods, and anxieties as any other athlete.
“Federer managed to win the battle within as predictably he prevailed in the exterior one with opponents. My favourite lapse of Federer’s cool was way back in 2008 in Monte Carlo where, following a close call that (correctly) went his way at the baseline, he turned to Novak Djokovic’s voluble parents and barked, ‘Be quiet, okay?’ Then Federer walked up to the baseline and angrily kicked at the mark, raising clay dust.
“Federer overcame an early-career zeal for splintering racquets, but he discreetly sparred with chair umpires on a number of occasions, he muttered and cursed, often while sitting, staring straight ahead, on a changeover. He once told an official, as part of running commentary, ‘Don’t tell me to be quiet. When I wanna talk, I talk, alright?’
“My favourite quote overheard in the heat of battle: During a match plagued by bad calls and overrules, Federer chuntered: ‘We need a clown for this circus.’” Federer was winning the encounter 6-3, 3-2, before the 35-year-old had to retire from the match. The five-time year-end number one is known for his class and poise both on and off the court, but very early in his career he was prone to the occasional racket smash or outburst.
In fact, as a teenager he was given a punishment of cleaning toilets and vacuuming offices after he threw his racket and broke the newly-erected curtains that had been placed to separate the courts. “He was highly upset when he lost a match. Throw a racket or even cry. He could cry for half an hour after the match, which was disturbing,” his mother Lynette once said.
His father Robert added: “We were never angry if he lost a match but we were angry with his behaviour after matches. “He was horrible sometimes. Throwing rackets, swearing on the court – sometimes we felt a bit ashamed.”
Now at the age of 41 and regarded by many as the greatest tennis player of all time, his parents were among the proudest in the room as he bid farewell to tennis at the Laver Cup. On what was a very emotional evening at the O2 Arena, the 20-time major winner bowed out of the sport following a doubles loss alongside great friend and rival Rafael Nadal.