THE umpire who defaulted Novak Djokovic at the US Open in 2020 has responded to being handed a one-year suspension.
Soeren Friemel, the umpire who defaulted Novak Djokovic at the US Open in 2020, has responded to his one-year suspension. Last week it emerged that tennis’ governing body, the ITF, had suspended the German for a year due to what was regarded as an abuse of power.
Back in September 2020, Djokovic hit a ball away in frustration, which inadvertently struck a line judge during his fourth-round meeting with Pablo Carreno Busta.
Friemel was spotted deep in conversation with the world No 1 in the immediate aftermath of the incident before the decision was made to expel him from the tournament.
Regarding Friemel’s own recent plight, he said: “I have been in officiating for 30 years. But now I’m thinking about rethinking my – how do you say it – work-life balance.
“That doesn’t change anything anymore. My reputation, my reputation is badly damaged. What is sad is that my parents and my sister also suffer from it, of course.”
Friemel was found to have broken three clauses of the Joint Certification Programme Code of Conduct, including Article 13, which states that ‘officials shall not engage in unfair, unprofessional, criminal or unethical conduct’.
He was also said to be in breach of Article 14, ruling that ‘officials shall not abuse his/her position of authority or control, and shall not compromise the psychological, physical or emotional wellbeing of other officials, players or tournament personnel’.
The year-long suspension that was handed down to Friemel has reportedly been backdated to June 19, 2021 and is due to come to an end at midnight on June 18 2022.
He has served as the ITF’s head of officiating since 2014 and is among the most renowned umpires on the tennis circuit for most of the last decade.
A spokesperson for the ITF said: “The complaint was that Soeren made inappropriate comments and invitations to an individual.
“The issue was the situation of power imbalance, which led the investigating officer and the panel to find a breach of the code.
“Soeren remains under suspension and we are reviewing our course of action.”
Flushing Meadows has not been a happy hunting ground for Djokovic since winning his third title there in 2018.
The following year he retired from his fourth-round match against Stan Wawrinka due to injury, before he was kicked out of the event in 2020.
Then in 2021, he was one match away from winning all four slams in a calendar year and becoming the first man to reach 21 Grand Slams.
However, he was beaten by Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in the final and the Russian was defeated by Rafael Nadal in the final of the Australian Open last month, and the Spaniard now stands alone on the magic number 21.
The world number one is set to compete in his first tournament of 2022 in Dubai later this month.