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“You’re an absolute joke”: Holger Rune, Novak Djokovic each take on umpire Mohamed Lahyani in Rome
Declared the Dane Wednesday, “It’s always the umpire that makes me look like a bad guy. Always.”
Published May 17, 2023
Holger Rune and Novak Djokovic may have competed on opposite sides of the net Wednesday, but the two were united in taking on chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani.
Rune ultimately took the pair’s Rome quarterfinal, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, in a clash that saw plenty of tension directed towards one of the sport’s most prolific chair umpires and his match management.
Rune's displeasure emerged first. After Lahyani ruled in Djokovic’s favor on a ball mark review at 2-3, 40-30, the Dane was eventually broken and fell behind 2-5. During the changeover, Rune's emotions poured out after running through the pair’s history.
“Listen to me. I had you three or four times, and you make misses every time we play,” the 20-year-old recounted. “You’re an absolute joke, man.”
As Patrick Mouratoglou tried to calm the No. 7 seed down from the stands and Djokovic listened in serving iconic looks of his own, Rune wasn’t finished.
“This guy’s a joke,” he said when turning briefly to Mouratoglou, before delivering one final line of note. “It’s always the umpire that makes me look like a bad guy. Always.”
In the deciding set, it was Djokovic’s turn to speak his mind about Lahyani’s day on the job.
Serving at 0-2, 15-30, Djokovic was issued a time violation warning. Puzzled at the decision, he approached the Swede.
Lahyani's explanation was that the score is called in Italian first, followed by English.
“But what’s the drama of waiting between English and Italian?”asked Djokovic, before producing an even bigger inquiry. “What, are you acting here or what?”
“This is how we do [it],” assured Lahyani.
“This is how you do what?” replied the six-time champion. “Why do you call the score for 20 seconds? Just call the score, for God’s sake.”
Rune improved to 2-1 against the 22-time major winner to reach his second Masters 1000 semifinal of the European clay-court swing (Monte Carlo runner-up).