MELBOURNE, Jan 14 (Reuters) - The frustration of a first round loss in searing heat at his home Australian Open told on 54th-ranked Marinko Matosevic, who took exception to his coach’s lack of support and fans calling him ‘mad dog’ during his marathon five-setter on Tuesday.
Bosnia-born Matosevic extended his winless streak at grand slams to 12 with a 6-3 5-7 6-2 4-6 6-2 loss to 16th-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori after three tumultuous hours and 46 minutes on a raucous Show Court 2.
The 28-year-old battler has never won a title but retains a cult following Down Under for his full-blooded passion and histrionics on court.
With the temperature exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahreheit), Matosevic threw his heart and soul into his fifth Melbourne Park appearance, and was still fired up as he worked through an expletive-ridden post-match media conference.
Matosevic was called for time violations by the chair umpire, the first for an equipment failure when he had to change his hat and then docked a point for the second for taking a drink in the third set.
”When have you seen that?“ Matosevic asked reporters incredulously of the second violation. ”A guy’s (Nishikori‘s) taking his bottle to the back of the court. He can do it. I’ll take a drink.
“He went to get a drink, so I went to get a drink. She calls a point penalty. Nothing I can do.”
Matosevic repeatedly waved his arms at spectators after points, urging them to show their support, but did not appreciate being encouraged by some fans who called him ‘Mad Dog’, a nickname he described as “stupid”.
“Because it’s not my nickname. Some idiot put it on Wikipedia,” said Matosevic, whose personal website (marinkomatosevic.com.au) also makes reference to the name.
“Marinko Matosevic is one of Australia’s leading pro tennis players. A tenacious, determined player, earning him the nickname ‘Mad Dog Matosevic’, Marinko has etched his name firmly on both the Australian and world tennis playing stage,” the homepage of the website says.
Matosevic had some 30 friends in the terraces. The crowd was “great”, but some spectators lacked “etiquette”, he said.
He added that he would also speak to his Australian coach Mark Woodforde, one of the most successful doubles players of all time, about not giving him enough support during the see-sawing contest.
”I wanted my coach to vocally support me, but he wouldn‘t,“ he said. ”I’ve spoken about it before, but I don’t know.
”Not disappointed in the lack of support. Some players need verbal support, some don‘t.
“I‘m a player that likes it and needs it and wants it. So if my coach is just going to sit there and clap, I expect more.”
The fighting nature of Matosevic’s loss led one reporter to suggest he might feel himself close to breaking his grand slam drought. The player’s return was virtually unplayable.
“What do you want me to say to that?” (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Patrick Johnston)