Sportsmanship is a huge part of any sport but tennis is the only sport where fans see it occur time and time again. Today, at the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic showed it again as he asked the chair umpire to take one of his reviews after Gael Monfils had lost his due to an umpiring error.
After losing the first set against Monfils, Djokovic fought back in the second to level the match at 1-1. In the first game of the third set, with the Frenchman serving at 30-15, both players found themselves playing from behind the baseline. The point appeared to be going on forever before the Serbian decided to attempt an ambitious drop shot off his backhand.
The ball came off the net and dropped near the sideline with no umpire giving any call. Monfils was stranded at the baseline and just watched as the ball came over the net and asked for the review. But as he turned back to collect the balls for his next serve, he saw the line official with her hand sticking out. So as soon as the chair umpire said that it was the Frenchman who was challenging the call, Monfils immediately pointed at the official to make his case.
He made his way to the line official who still had her arm stretched out and imitated her which drew a few chuckles from the crowd. The chair umpire, however, said, “No, no, no. She called it good first. Gael the original call is in, okay? We are going to challenge it anyway.”
The following review showed that the ball had caught the line by a literal whisker which meant that Monfils would lose one of his challenges. Monfils immediately called Djokovic to the net and told him, “You won the point but she called it out.”
Without a second’s thought, Djokovic told the chair umpire, “You misunderstood. She called it out and I was challenging.” The official also was more than happy to oblige the two players and let Monfils keep his review. Maybe it was karma or maybe just Djokovic’s skill that the Serb eventually wrapped up the match in four sets to progress to the next round of the tournament.