Sport World No.1 Novak Djokovic learns ‘big lesson’ after US Open default

World No.1 Novak Djokovic learns ‘big lesson’ after US Open default

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Novak Djokovic has learned “a big lesson” after being disqualified from the US Open for unintentionally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball.

The incident eight days ago marked a stunning end to Djokovic’s 29-match winning streak and his bid for an 18th grand slam singles title.

“I’m working mentally and emotionally as hard as I am working physically,” Djokovic said on Monday at the Italian Open.

“I’m trying to be the best version of myself on the court and off the court and I understand that I have outbursts and this is kind of the personality and the player that I have always been.

“I’m going to take this in as profound as possible for me as a big lesson.

“I’ve been thinking about it. I’ve been comprehending. I’ve been talking to my team.

“It’s just one of these things that is just unfortunate and happens. You have to move on.”

The disqualification came during world No.1 Djokovic’s fourth-round match against Pablo Carreno Busta.

Djokovic – the top seed and an overwhelming favourite for the championship – struck the ball in annoyance and it struck the line judge, who collapsed to the ground and could be heard gasping for breath when the incident occurred.

“It was totally unexpected and very unintended as well,” Djokovic said.

“When you hit a ball like that you have a chance to hit somebody that is on the court.

“The rules are clear. So I accepted it. I had to move on and that’s what I did.

“Of course I did not forget about it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget about it, because it’s one of those things that stays in your memory for the rest of your life.

“But I don’t think I’ll have any major issues coming back to the tour and being able to perform well and hit the tennis ball.”

novak djokovic us open
Novak Djokovic with the injured line judge immediately after he struck her with a tennis ball. Photo: Getty

The upside for Djokovic from his Flushing Meadows default was that it gave him more time to prepare on clay for this week’s Italian Open and the French Open starting on September 27.

He has an opening-round bye in Rome before a clash with Italian wild-card entry Salvatore Caruso or a qualifier.

The tournament at the Foro Italico was rescheduled from May because of the coronavirus pandemic and will be played without fans in attendance.

Nine-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal is on the opposite side of the draw from Djokovic, marking the Spaniard’s return to tennis after a seven-month break.

Like at the US Open, players are being kept in a protective bubble and being tested frequently for the coronavirus.

But as opposed to the situation in New York, players are not required to wear masks when they enter and leave the court.