Paris: Novak Djokovic blamed a close line call for his shock five-set defeat by Austrian Jurgen Melzer in the French Open quarter-finals.
The Serbian third seed was cruising after pocketing the first two sets with razor-sharp tennis but the wheels fell off when he led 2-0 in the third and he slumped to a demoralising 3-6, 2-6, 6-2, 7-6, 6-4 defeat in more than four hours.
When 22nd-seed Melzer served for the match at 5-4 in the fifth he fluffed a forehand and appeared to have been wrong-footed by a Djokovic crosscourt as he approached the net.
The ball appeared to have touched the line but when Melzer asked the umpire to climb off his chair and inspect the mark, Carlos Bernardes deemed that it had landed out meaning that instead of being down 0-30 the Austrian was back at 15-15.
Djokovic could not believe his eyes and was still chuntering about the decision after the match, although he only had himself to blame for wasting the chance to face Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.
"From my side and from my perspective, it was looking good," the 23-year-old former Australian Open champion told reporters. "There was no space between the line and the mark, and that means the ball is good.”
"I don`t know why the chair umpire got that decision wrong. And there was another ball on 4-4, my advantage, as well, and the ball was out. But this is all part of the sport."