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Novak Djokovic: 'US Open disqualification a big lesson'

Novak Djokovic: 'US Open disqualification a big lesson'
© Reuters
Novak Djokovic was disqualified from the US Open for hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball struck in annoyance.

Novak Djokovic has taken his shock disqualification from the US Open as a "big lesson" but admitted he cannot guarantee he will not do the same thing again.

The world number one spoke at a press conference in Rome for the first time since he was dramatically ejected from the year's second grand slam for hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball struck in annoyance during his fourth-round clash with Pablo Carreno Busta.

It is not the first time Djokovic has expressed frustration in a similar way – he whacked a ball angrily against the advertising hoardings earlier in the same match – and he accepted that the fire that makes him a champion can also come out in negative ways.

Novak Djokovic looks shocked after his disqualification from the US Open
Novak Djokovic looks shocked after his disqualification from the US Open (Seth Wenig/AP)

He said: "Of course as anybody else I'm working mentally and emotionally as hard as I'm working physically, trying to be the best version of myself on the court and off the court.

"I understand that I have outbursts and this is the personality and the player I have always been. I obviously went through ups and downs in my career in managing to control my emotions more or less but you're alone out there, it's a lot of intensity, a lot of pressure and you have to deal with all of that so sometimes situations like this happen.

"I cannot promise that I will never, ever do anything similar to that. I'm definitely going to try my best that something like that never happens again, obviously, but anything is possible in life. I'm going to take this in as profound as possible as a big lesson."

Djokovic argued his case for several minutes with tournament officials after the incident before accepting his fate and leaving Flushing Meadows.

He contacted the affected line judge, Laura Clark, to check on her condition and insisted he has now moved on.

He said: "Of course it was very hard for me to accept right after it happened. For a couple of days I was in shock and I was shaken by the whole thing.

"Of course it could have happened earlier in my career, it could have happened to many players. It was just unfortunate it did hit the line umpire in a very awkward place.

"There was a lot of speculation about whether it was deserved. I accepted it, I moved on.

"I checked on Laura after the match, she said that she was fine.  I felt really sorry to cause the shock and drama to her because she didn't deserve that in any way.

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.

A post shared by Novak Djokovic (@djokernole) on

"I felt very good about myself, my game. It was totally unexpected and very unintended but, when you hit the ball like that, you have a chance to hit somebody that is on the court.

"I accepted it and I had to move on. Of course I didn't forget about it, I don't think I'll ever forget about it."

The upside for Djokovic 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.

Djokovic said: "I don't think I'll have any major issues coming back to the tour and being able to perform well. I have my first chance here in Rome.

"It's great I think I have a tournament a week or 10 days after it happened because I feel the earlier I get back in competition mode the faster I'll overcome the memory and re-programme it. I'm hoping for the best."

Rafael Nadal chose not to defend his title in New York and will play his first tournament since the end of February in Rome.

The Spaniard, famous for his self-control, said of Djokovic's misfortune: "The consequences have been always the same. Novak was unlucky. The rules say clearly that's a default.

"Sorry for him. He had an opportunity there. But in some way you should not be doing this. It is important to have the right self-control on the court because, if not, you can be unlucky as he was."

Nadal played down expectations for his return to the match court, saying: "It's obvious that to feel you're 100 per cent that you need matches. But here I am. I arrived with plenty of time to try to have the right practices.

"I'm excited about going back to the competition without big expectation. Go on court, feel myself competitive, and then I will see how I feel and what kind of goals I can look for."

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Dominic Thiem celebrates winning the US Open on September 13, 2020
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