Tennis

Djokovic can't guarantee that he won't repeat US Open mistake

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic says that he cannot guarantee he will not make a similar mistake to his disqualification at the US Open for striking a line judge in the throat with a ball but that he would try his best.

The Serb was disqualified in the fourth round in New York after he hit a ball in frustration after dropping serve in the first set against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta, hitting the line judge in her throat and causing her to fall to the floor.

Djokovic said that he called on the lineswoman to check on her health since the incident at Flushing Meadows.

“It’s not completely out of the blue,” Djokovic told a news conference at the Italian Open on Monday (Sept 14).

“I cannot promise or cannot guarantee that I will never ever do anything similar to that in my life. I’m going to try my best, obviously, but anything is possible in life.”

Following the incident, US Open organisers confirmed Djokovic was fined US$250,000 (S$340,000) – his prize money for reaching the fourth round.

The 33-year-old was also fined an additional US$10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct. “The rules are clear. I accepted it and had to move on. That’s what I did,” the Serb added.

Rafael Nadal also offered some sympathy for Djokovic, who would have moved to 18 Grand Slam titles, one behind the Spaniard and two behind Roger Federer in the battle for all-time greatness, had he gone on to win on Sunday at Flushing Meadows.

“The consequences have been always the same. Nothing new on that. Novak was unlucky. The rules say clearly that’s a default,” the world No. 2 said in a news conference at the Rome Masters where he will resume his season this week after a seven-month hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Sorry for him. He had an opportunity there. But in some way, you should not be doing this. It’s very unfortunate, very unlucky situation. But it’s important to have the right self-control on the court, because if not, you can be unlucky.”

Nadal was one of several players to opt out of playing at the US Open because of his concerns about travelling during the pandemic.

Austrian Dominic Thiem, the man Nadal beat to win the last two French Open titles, claimed his first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows, coming back from two sets down to beat Alexander Zverev in a gripping final at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Thiem’s victory ended a run of 13 Slam titles won by either Nadal, Djokovic or Federer and made him the first new Major winner since Marin Cilic in 2014.

“Happy for Dominic. He is somebody that deserves to win a big title, super hard worker. Very focused on his goals. Good person, good human person. He deserves it,” said Nadal, who will be aiming to win a record-extending 13th French Open when the re-scheduled clay-court event starts at the end of September.

He will open in Rome against compatriot Carreno Busta. – REUTERS

Tennis