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Nadal Not Being A Part Of The Final Is Just One Bizarre Aspect Of The 2020 Rome Masters Tennis

By Ricky Dimon

So much for Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal in the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. Instead, it will be Djokovic vs. Diego Schwartzman for the title on Monday afternoon. Schwartzman stunned Nadal in the quarterfinals and then outlasted Denis Shapovalov in a three-hour thriller on Sunday.

But that isn’t the only unexpected development that took place over the past week. It has to be said that there has been a lot going at the Rome Masters, and thankfully none of it has anything to do with the coronavirus. No, fortunately in the ‘rona department this tournament has progressed smoothly.

First, let’s get back to Shapovalov. His post-hiatus tennis has been outstanding, with a quarterfinal performance at the U.S. Open and now a semifinal showing in Rome. His attire, however, has been a different story. The color scheme of his Agassi-inspired looks cool enough, but why does the shirt look like it is cut off and barely goes down to his waist? It’s utterly baffling.

Shapovalov, why does the shirt look like it is cut off and barely goes down to his waist?

In addition to wardrobe malfunctions, there also appear to have been some technology glitches. In Djokovic’s semifinal against Casper Ruud, chair umpire Adel Nour made three calls in the span of 10 minutes that went against what the Hawkeye replays showed. All three showed shots hit by Ruud to be out, but Nour ruled that all three hit the line.

Novak Djokovic argues with a referee over the replay.

In the Schwartzman-Shapovalov match, chair umpire Nacho Forcadell told the Canadian that he could not see any space in between a mark and then line and yet still called Shapovalov’s shot out.

Benoit Paire went out of the tournament after one match, but he still had time to make headlines. The Frenchman went on a Twitter tirade about having to play on Monday instead of Tuesday, slammed water bottles, argued everything from line calls to time violations, and tanked the last game of the match in his 6-2, 6-1 loss to Jannik Sinner.

Djokovic’s outburst during a three-set quarterfinal win over Dominik Koepfer was tame by comparison. The top-ranked Serb simply destroyed a racket — not unlike anything we see on tour almost every day. Nonetheless, that single act was one of the main headlines on ESPN.com on Saturday afternoon–a day that also had the NBA playoffs, a golf major (U.S. Open), and colllege football. 

Anger management? Novak Djokovic reacts during his quarter-finals round match against Dominik Koepfer.

Memo to ESPN: a player breaking a tennis racket does not need to be on the main page of the biggest sports website in the world–not even if it comes shortly after he was defaulted from the U.S. Open.

There is still one more day to go in Rome, which is bizarre in itself given that all other tournaments end on a Sunday rather than a Monday. What else could we have in store?!?!


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.