Novak Djokovic learned “a great lesson” after being disqualified from the US Open for inadvertently hitting a line judge in the neck with a ball.
The event eight days ago marked a fantastic end to Djokovic’s 29-match winning streak and his bid for an 18th Grand Slam title.
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“I work mentally and emotionally just as hard as I work physically,” Djokovic said at the Italian Open on Monday. it’s such a personality and the player that i’ve always been.
“I want to take this as deep as possible for me as a great lesson. I have thought about it. I understand that. I̵
The disqualification came during Djokovic’s match in the fourth round against Pablo Carreño Busta.
When he went to the Arthur Ashe Stadium sideline for a conversion, followed by Carreño Busta 6-5 in the first set, Djokovic – who was seeded and ranked No. 1 and an overwhelming favorite for the championship – beat a ball behind him. The ball flew straight towards the line judge, who fell to her knees at the back of the court and stretched for her neck.
“It was also completely unexpected and very unintentional,” Djokovic said. “When you hit such a ball, you have a chance to hit someone on the field. The rules are clear. So I accepted it. I had to move on and that was what I did.
“Of course I did not forget,” Djokovic added. “I do not think I will ever forget it because it is one of the things that will remain in your memory for the rest of your life. But I do not think I will have any major problems returning to the tour and being able to perform well and hit the tennis ball. ”
Djokovic said he checked with the line woman after the incident and was told she was not seriously injured.
“I felt really sorry for causing the shock and drama for her because she did not deserve it in any way,” Djokovic said. “Of course she is a volunteer and does her job. She loves tennis and she has been there, as I understood, for a few years. ”
Djokovic had won five of the last seven Grand Slam tournaments to raise his total to 17, joining rivals Roger Federer, who has a men’s record 20, and Rafael Nadal, who has 19.
Federer (injury) and Nadal (concern about travel in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic) both did not play at the US Open.
“Sorry for him. He had an opportunity there, ”said Nadal. “But somehow you should not do this. … It is important to have the right self-control on the field. ”
Djokovic has an opening round in Rome. His first match this week comes against either Italian wildcard entry Salvatore Caruso or a qualifier.
The tournament at Foro Italico was rescheduled from May due to the pandemic and will be played without fans present.
Nadal, who holds a record nine titles in Rome, is on the opposite side of the draw from Djokovic. The Spaniard returns to tennis for the first time since February.
“I always look like – maybe a little worse because I did not compete in the last six months,” said Nadal. “To feel like you’re 100%, you need matches.”
Nadal opens towards Carreño Busta.
“He plays well,” Nadal said. “Will be a good test.”
As at the US Open, players are kept in a protective “bubble” and often tested for coronavirus. But unlike the situation in New York, players are not required to wear masks when entering and leaving the field.
“All the players have been tested so it makes sense,” said Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was sixth. “And they do not have people running around telling you what to do and what protocol to follow every minute that you are in the bubble.
“Plus,” Tsitsipas added, “housing is another level.”
Men’s players stay at the five-star Rome Cavalieri, which overlooks the city center from a hilltop.