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Novak Djokovic towel meltdown: Crowd boos as Serbian recovers to win first set in Australian Open semi-final

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A mid-set meltdown from Novak Djokovic has not stopped the world No.4 from winning the first set 7-5 in the semi-final against Tommy Paul as boos rang out from the Australian Open crowd at Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic was cruising at 5-1 up in the first set against the US talent, with it seemingly already in the bag, before a heated discussion with the chair umpire seemed to derail the Serbian superstar.

Angry that the chair umpire was starting the serve clock before he had used his towel between points, Djokovic confronted the official for the following conversation.

MORE: Novak Djokovic vs Tommy Paul live score, updates, highlights for Australian Open semi final

Djokovic: “Why did you start the clock? I haven’t got to the towel yet…No you know, you have to get to the towel.”

Chair umpire: “That’s not the way it works.”

Djokovic: “The ball kids are not allowed to give me the towel. Tell me how it works. It’s the first time I’m going to the towel this game and you start the clock before I touch the towel. Well done. (walks away).”

With the crowd jeering the 21-time Grand Slam winner for his complaints, Djokovic then dropped the next four games, including two service breaks, to see Paul level the match at 5-5.

However, the champion steadied to hold and made it 6-5 before breaking Paul and winning the set.

As he celebrated, Djokovic cupped his fingers sarcastically to the crowd, with a large portion booing the nine-time Australian Open champion, while the Serbian fans cheered wildly.

The crowd continued to misbehave throughout much of the second set, with individuals continually making noise during points and just before serves.


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