Everyone has an opinion on Novak Djokovic’s US Open disqualification, but nobody’s view can be totally validated since the Serbian’s glittering resume in men’s tennis is matched by nobody.
Well, almost nobody.
Rafael Nadal, one of two men with more Grand Slam single titles than Djokovic, has had his say on the controversy at Flushing Meadows.
“Novak was unlucky,” admitted the Spaniard, as per Eurosport, who sat out the New York showpiece amid concerns over travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To the casual observer, Djokovic’s disqualification for hitting a ball into a line judge’s throat during his fourth-round match with Pablo Carreno Busta may be perceived as an excessive punishment.
This argument points to how the act was unintentional and emphasises that, while the ball was evidently hit with enough power to cause serious harm, the strike carried little venom.
However, Nadal added: "The consequences have been always the same. Nothing new on that. 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'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.”
During the encounter in an empty Arthur Ashe stadium, Djokovic gradually lost control of his emotions, hammering a ball into an advertising board minutes before the now-infamous moment. Having been broken by Carreno Busta in the first set’s 11th game, he again blindly hit a ball in the direction of an official and, this time, he was not so fortunate.
The flashpoint cost the 33-year-old a golden opportunity to move to one Grand Slam title behind Nadal’s 19, and pull within two of Roger Federer, the all-time men’s leader.
Federer also missed the US Open due to a long-term knee injury.
Djokovic has always had a fiery, divisive demeanour and, with Nadal and Federer adored by tennis fans, this episode serves as a reminder for why he often seems the odd one out in male tennis’ transcendent trio.
Nevertheless, his early exit opened the door for a first major winner outside the ‘Big Three’ since Marin Cilic won in New York way back in 2014.
It was Dominic Thiem who grabbed the opportunity, coming back from two sets down to beat German Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final.
Nadal, who will return to tennis tomorrow at the Italian Open, welcomed the Austrian’s first Grand Slam title.
“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.”
Djokovic will get a shot at redemption when the French Open begins later this month, though he will be up against Nadal, who will be hunting an astounding 13th title at Roland Garros.
- Dominic Thiem wins the US Open
- Match ref reveals what Djokovic said to avoid DQ
- Line judge receives death threats from Djokovic saga