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Watch: 4 Years Ago, Novak Djokovic Was Not Bothered When Asked if Smashing Balls Would Put Him in Trouble

Novak Djokovic (Photo Credit: AP)

Novak Djokovic (Photo Credit: AP)

Four years ago, Novak Djokovic was questioned whether his habit of smashing balls on court in anger could put him in trouble. He brushed it aside then!

The tennis world was shocked at the scene that unfurled at the Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday in the US Open when world No.1 and men’s singles favourite Novak Djokovic was defaulted and sent packing from the Round of 16 of the tournament. Djokovic had hit a line judge in the throat with a ball while smashing a ball in frustration and it cost him dearly.

This was not the first time when Djokovic showed his frustration on court. He has a bit of a habit of smashing the balls around on the court in anger and now, when he is very close catching up with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s Grand Slam records, it has hit him hard.

Four years ago, at a press conference during an ATP tournament, he was questioned by a reporter whether his habit of smashing balls would come back to bite him one day. He did not seem bothered at all then and even accused media of picking such things against him. However, the reporter’s words came true on Monday.

Here is how the conversation at the press conference unfolded:

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Reporter: Does it concern you that someday that could cost you dearly if the ball hit someone?

Djokovic: You guys are unbelievable because you’re always picking these kind of things, it’s incredible.

Reporter: You keep doing these things.

Djokovic: I keep doing these things, what. Why don’t I get suspended then?"

Reporter: You’re close.

Djokovic: I am close? I am still not suspended so if I am not close, I am not close."

Reporter: But it could have been serious.

Djokovic: It could have been serious, sure. It could have been snow here today but it isn’t. I am the only player who shows his frustration on court, that’s what you want to say. It is not an issue for me. This is not the first time I did it.

What Happened on Monday?

It looked like Djokovic was breezing through when Carreno-Busta was serving at 4-5, 0-40 down but Djokovic squandered the three set points and let the Spaniard back in the first set. That led to Djokovic becoming increasingly frustrated and then when he dropped his serve immediately after to trail 5-6, he lost his cool. He swatted a ball reasonably hard to the back of the court and inadvertently struck a female line judge on her throat.

Djokovic, realising his fault immediately, rushed to check up on her and apologised as the line judge fell out of her chair screaming in pain.

The tournament referee Soeren Friemel then came out on the court and spoke to chair umpire Aurelie Tourte and Andreas Egli, the Grand Slam supervisor, before a long chat with the 33-year-old Serb, a three-time former US Open winner.

Djokovic pleaded his case for 12 minutes that it was completely unintentional and was even heard saying, “she doesn’t have to go to hospital for this." But he was defaulted and disqualified from the US Open.

first published:September 07, 2020, 17:27 IST