A video posted on Twitter captured the moment the park police officer entered the court and approached Troicki, who told The Post late Thursday night that the Citi Open security guard had not informed him nor Tomic why they were being asked to leave the court.
Some of the audio is indiscernible, as the video is taken from several yards away, but some of it — mostly the park police officer’s words — can be heard.
“You wanna knock it off now?” the U.S. Park Police officer asked and shouted, “Let’s go” to Troicki repeatedly, while adding, “We’re not playing tennis.”
“You don’t want to stop, do you?” the officer continued. “Because it’s severe weather coming in.”
Troicki replied, “It’s not raining.”
After that, Tomic approached the officer from the other side of the net and said, “Excuse me, it’s not raining.”
The officer replied while stepping toward Tomic, “It doesn’t matter. [indiscernible]. Get off the court.”
Tomic tried keeping his distance, but the officer kept stepping within inches of him. Tomic kept backing up, even gesturing to the officer that he was getting too close.
Troicki told The Post that the officer also threatened to arrest him if he did not get off the court. He said he would have listened and gotten off the court immediately had the officer explained what was happening in a non-confrontational manner. Troicki, who is from Serbia, added that he and Tomic, an Australia native, left the court shortly after their interaction with the officer.
“If he was just said it nicely, and if he said, ‘Storm is coming, guys we’re taking care of you. Big storm is coming, get off the court please. It’s dangerous. It’s our job to keep you safe.’ [Then] no problem. We got it. No worries,” Troicki said. “The way they came at us and [how] they started to talk to us was crazy.”
Jeff Newman, tournament director for the Citi Open, told The Post on Thursday afternoon that the disagreement shown in the video could stem from an unfamiliarity in the situation.
“I think it’s because the players are probably not used to seeing an officer coming out to stop practice,” Newman said. “I think it was more of a unique situation that took place. I think it was just figuring out why the U.S. Park Police were the ones coming out there. After I talked to Bernard Tomic, he understood. It’s just a matter of the unique set of circumstances of being on U.S. government property.”
Rose told The Post that Troicki and Tomic weren’t listening to tournament staff instruction and that lack of action on Troicki and Tomic’s part resulted in park police being called in.
“In this particular case, from what I understand, the two tennis players that you see in the video had been told by Citi Open personnel, as well as Park Service personnel, that they should get off the court for their safety,” Rose said. “They were expecting a rather large electrical storm and the players ignored them in excess of 10 minutes or so. The storm, from what I understood, was five to 10 minutes away, so there was a sense of urgency to get them off the court. They asked park police to step in to help get these players off the court.
“It was unfortunate that it had to escalate to the police coming,” Rose added.
Troicki shook his head when he was informed of Rose’s comments.
“If he was telling us 10 minutes, then obviously we would’ve gotten an explanation,” he said. “Ten minutes is a long time.”
The police had every right to be on the court, according to Newman. The Rock Creek Park Tennis Center is on federal land, as Rock Creek Park is a National Park.
Newman said communication needs to be better in the future, especially because of situations like these, but agreed the officer did what he was supposed to do. He also said he offered an apology to Troicki from a tournament perspective in that this was an “unfortunate set of circumstances,” while reiterating that it was not his position as the tournament director to question how the park police handled the incident.
“Was the intent the right one? Of course. They were trying to protect the players,” Newman said. “Do the players feel that it should’ve been handled better? They have every right to their opinion and that’s where I come into play and I have to talk to the players and explain the situation to them.”
This post was updated Friday morning with quotes from Viktor Troicki and updated statements from Jeff Newman.