[imagesource: Jason Szenes/EPA]
Coming into the US Open, Novak Djokovic was the overwhelming favourite to take home another Grand Slam win, and close the gap between himself and tennis’ two modern greats.
Roger Federer has 20 Grand Slam singles wins, and Rafa Nadal has 19, but both opted to skip the US Open amidst health and fitness concerns.
Djokovic, on 17 titles, and in dire need of some good PR after the mess that was the tennis tournament / COVID-19 festival he organised, was facing Pablo Carreno Busta in the fourth-round match when things went very, very wrong.
After losing a first set game to go 5-6 down, he walloped a ball directly into the throat of a line judge, and was subsequently disqualified.
Djokovic’s run of form:
– organises tournament where everyone gets coronavirus
– launches breakaway union that most players don’t want
– gets disqualified from US Open for hitting a line judge pic.twitter.com/YEPVG7hWng
— Henry Mance (@henrymance) September 6, 2020
— Greg Brady (@gregbradyTO) September 6, 2020
It was clearly unintentional, but it was also just plain daft, especially when he knows that the tennis world is keeping such a close eye on him in light of recent events.
After the line judge dropped, there was a great deal of discussion on court, as Djokovic argued against being disqualified, but his efforts were in vain.
You can see the exchange below, with the final decision relayed to the Serb around the two-minute mark:
More from Sky:
The tournament’s organisers have said Djokovic hit the ball “dangerously or recklessly” with “negligent disregard of the consequences”.
In a statement, US Open officials said he will lose all ranking points earned and will also be fined the prize money he has won.
Djokovic will face another fine for not doing the press conference, after he was seen getting into a car and leaving the site.
He did post to Instagram, though, about how sorry he was:
View this post on Instagram
This whole situation has left me really sad and empty. I checked on the lines person and the tournament told me that thank God she is feeling ok. I‘m extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong. I’m not disclosing her name to respect her privacy. As for the disqualification, I need to go back within and work on my disappointment and turn this all into a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and human being. I apologize to the @usopen tournament and everyone associated for my behavior. I’m very grateful to my team and family for being my rock support, and my fans for always being there with me. Thank you and I’m so sorry. Cela ova situacija me čini zaista tužnim i praznim. Proverio sam kako se oseća linijski sudija, i prema informacijama koje sam dobio, oseća se dobro, hvala Bogu. Njeno ime ne mogu da otkrijem zbog očuvanja njene privatnosti. Jako mi je žao što sam joj naneo takav stres. Nije bilo namerno. Bilo je pogrešno. Želim da ovo neprijatno iskustvo, diskvalifikaciju sa turnira, pretvorim u važnu životnu lekciju, kako bih nastavio da rastem i razvijam se kao čovek, ali i teniser. Izvinjavam se organizatorima US Opena. Veoma sam zahvalan svom timu i porodici što mi pružaju snažnu podršku, kao i mojim navijačima jer su uvek uz mene. Hvala vam i žao mi je. Bio je ovo težak dan za sve.
Being contrite is great, but an Instagram post doesn’t replace your media duties, and you need to perform your post-match press conference like everybody else.
Tim Henman, who was once disqualified from Wimbledon for a similar incident, agrees, with this from the Guardian:
“He’s hit that ball aiming for the back fence … but you have to be responsible for your actions.”
Henman added that by evading the media on his way out, Djokovic had made the situation worse for himself.
“Unfortunately he’s compounding the error,” Henman said. “He needs to face up to it, apologise and accept he made a mistake. By, in essence, running away, it’s going to go on longer.”
Another black mark next to Djokovic’s name.
When Roger and Rafa finally hang up their racquets, you won’t find many of their fans rooting for the Serb.
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