Novak Djokovic planned to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Boris Becker’s historic first Wimbledon triumph with a stiff glass of water after keeping his own title defence alive at the All England Club.
But there’d be no toasting Becker’s 1985 triumph as a teenager until the world No.1 tracked down a ballgirl to apologise after she was visibly shaken when he roared at her during his tense fourth-round win over Kevin Anderson.
The defending champion was 3-2 down and at 30-30 in the final set on Tuesday when he screamed in the girl’s direction.
“I’m sorry. There was nothing towards her. Maybe she was just afraid of my screaming there,” said Djokovic, who claimed he was simply trying to fire himself up in the fifth-set decider.
“I was pretty close to her. I’m definitely going to try to apologise to her if I did something wrong.”
In April, the Serbian superstar took to Facebook to post a video apology to a ballboy after the youngster got caught in the crossfire of a tirade at his support team during his win over Andy Murray in the Miami Masters final.
During the rant, Djokovic snatched a towel from the ballboy before the umpire gave the top seed a code violation.
While there were no official warnings on Tuesday, there was no less anxiety for Djokovic, who had to survive a nerve-wracking one-set shootout to deny the big-serving Anderson 6-7 (6-8) 6-7 (6-8) 6-1 6-4 7-5 after the match was suspended overnight at two sets all because of fading light.
Obviously the fifth set today was very frustrating, very tense,” Djokovic said.
“I didn’t have basically any chances on his serve till that 11th game when he made two double-faults and I made couple good returns from the forehand side. That was enough.
“(But) again, when I was serving for the match, I had to come back from love-30.
“So all in all, until the last moment, until the last point, I didn’t know if I was going to win or not.”
Nor did he know his victory came 30 years to the day since a 17-year-old Becker also shot down a big-serving South African in Kevin Curran to land tennis’s greatest prize.
“I didn’t know it was today. But he’s going to have a glass of wine. I’ll have a glass of water and we will celebrate this nice milestone,” said the teetotalling Serb.
Djokovic faces Croatia’s US Open champion and ninth seed Marin Cilic on Wednesday in his 25th consecutive grand slam quarter-final.
The winner will play either fourth-seeded French Open champion Stan Wawrinka or 21st seed Richard Gasquet, the French conqueror of Nick Kyrgios, on Friday for a place in the final.