Novak Djokovic was disqualified from the US Open on Sunday after hitting a line judge with the ball.
The controversial decision sparked much debate, as many felt that the punishment was not in line with that received by other players guilty of the same offence.
After the incident, officials decided to impose a severe punishment for Djokovic’s actions and defaulted the Serbian from the US Open; meaning the world number one will lose all ranking points and prize money earned in the tournament.
This decision was later justified on Twitter with the United States Tennis Association stating the reason for the disqualification was “hitting a ball with negligent disregard for the consequences,” something of which the video of the incident clearly shows Djokovic to be guilty of.
Despite the seemingly legitimate reasons for this harsh penalty being imposed, many fans are questioning the consistency of punishments for this offence.
Roger Federer, the golden boy of tennis and the only man capable of causing British fans a dilemma of who to support when he plays Andy Murray, was involved in a similar incident at the Australian Open several years ago.
Federer’s punishment for this incident: Disqualification? A fine? Loss of points? None of the above.
The incident was laughed off by all involved, including the ball boy. The commentators even stating he was lucky to be hit, as he can go home and tell his friends Roger Federer hit him with a tennis ball.
After Djokovic hit the line judge, commentators made no mention of how lucky she was to be hit in the throat by one of tennis’ greatest ever players. Despite Federer hitting the ball behind his back, arguably with more “negligent disregard for the consequences” than Djokovic, he was not disqualified from the tournament.
Despite the difference in reaction by ball boy hit by Federer and the line judge hit by Djokovic, with one laughing and the other dropping to the floor, arguably the offence was identical.
This poses the question, are the rules the same for everyone?
The key difference, however, could be that Djokovic hit the ball with anger whereas his Swiss colleague had not just had his serve broken by a player ranked considerably lower than him. However, this was not stated as a part of the reasoning given for Djokovic’s disqualification, suggesting the state of mind of the player was not part of the decision.
Nick Kyrgios, seen as the rebel of tennis for his bad language and hot-headed antics, was quick to join in the debate regarding differing punishments given to tennis players.
The Australian tweeted a poll to ask fans how many years he would have been banned for, had he done the same as Djokovic. Clearly showing he did not think he would have gotten away with just a disqualification.
Regardless of your opinion of these incidents, it’s clear that the tennis rules and punishments for breaking them need to be applied more consistently.
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