Novak Djokovic was cruising against Milos Raonic in the Australian Open quarter-finals, leading 6-4 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena, when he suddenly became distracted and complained he couldn’t see.
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Despite maintaining a high standard of tennis deep into the third set, Djokovic decided he could not continue at 4-4 and requested an unscheduled break – even though it was his opponent's turn to serve next.
"I can’t see," he told the umpire before asking a ball boy to fetch some lenses.
Djokovic then disappeared off court, leaving an aggrieved Raonic to ponder his next service game on the baseline.

'I can’t see' – Djokovic calls medical timeout

"Are you allowed to do that?" queried Raonic, who eventually resorted to rehearsing his serve with some used balls while he waited. "And he couldn’t wait until the end of the set?"
When the match eventually resumed – over five minutes had passed since the last point – Djokovic cut a dejected figure, repeatedly gesturing towards his box and thrusting his face into a towel at each opportunity.
Raonic managed to maintain his focus amid the drama, swatting away four break points as the third set went to a tiebreak. That was as good as it got for him, however, as Djokovic charged through it 7-1 to book a semi-final showdown with Roger Federer.

Novak Djokovic winces

Image credit: Getty Images


Chris Bradnam and Frew McMillan on Eurosport commentary duty were perplexed by Djokovic’s lengthy timeout and complaints.

At 4-4 in the third set

CB: "What’s he asking for? Lenses? He’s had troubles with the lights, the glare… I don’t think I’ve seen this before. On a clay-court, yes, but certainly not on a hard court."
FM: "It is a bit off-putting though for an opponent. Normally you would go off before you serve, not before the opponent serves."
CB: "He'd just held to 15. He'd served an ace. If he’d been shanking the ball, hitting the frame and then flying off into the crowd, then 'can’t see' would have made more sense. My wife wears lenses. To change them takes 30 seconds. What about changing at the sit down? Why's he had to go off court to change a pair of lenses…some may ask. Raonic is certainly not happy with this and you can understand it."
FM: "Yes, there's always a bit of a feeling that the top players are able to control matters that much more easily."

Djokovic routs Raonic to set up semi-final showdown with Federer

After a medical timeout is belatedly announced

CB: "What, for his eyes? This is where the sport lets itself down. What is the medical timeout for? Federer had a medical time out today and he joked afterwards [that it was for] a groin injury, but going off court to get the treatment no one knew what the problem was."

At 5-5 in the third set

CB: "I’ve never seen this before. I’ve seen lots of people obviously having problems with lenses, they get a bit of dust in, they need to get it out, clean it, put it back and then normally everything is fine. This is prolonged."

After match point

CB: "It’ll be a talking point. The timing of his departure from the court to sort his lenses out, there’s no doubt."
FM: "That’s a particularly warm handshake [Djokovic] with the umpire. I think that’s because the umpire allowed him to go off to change his lenses. Whatever it was, it was a brilliant tiebreaker from Djokovic."


The world number two was quick to apologise for the furore during his on-court interview with John McEnroe:
I want to apologise to Milos again because it was not something you definitely see often, that a player goes out not at a changeover, so I also apologise to the crowd. It was not intentional or tactical, it was something I had to do. Those few games, I really couldn’t see much and I had to change my lenses.

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