When I woke up this morning to the headlines about Djokovic Defaulted I could not believe my eyes. The world number one is out of the US Open.
There are days when the greats are more irritable than others. Djokovic is more prone to this than Rafa and Roger and last night was not great for him. He played Carreno Busta – a player he is most likely to beat pretty handily, but Busta played well and just got the break at 5-5 when Djokovic took out one of the balls in his pocket and casually, but angrily hit it towards the back fence.
The ball freakishly hit a lineswoman in the throat and she fell to the ground. Djokovic rushed over to check how she was and she laid on the ground for quite a while. In the end, she seems to be okay, but it seemed to have hit her in exactly the wrong place. As per the rulebook, Djokovic defaulted in a similar way to Nalbandian at Queens 2012 or Shapovalov at the Davis Cup 2017.
Djokovic defaulted – Issued a statement
Djokovic did not go to the mandatory press conference, but instead just went back to his house. Later on, he issued the following statement on social media:
“This whole situation has left me really sad and empty, I checked on the linesperson 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.
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 US Open 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.”
It is deeply unfortunate and we can all understand his frustration. But Djokovic needs to tame his anger a bit. He is the number one player in the world, in charge of the player council (nowadays the PTPA), and a role model to so many people and tennis players worldwide. He is a leader and needs to act like one. Hitting balls out of the stands or at the back fence with the risk at hitting a ball person, is not suitable for a player and person of his stature. He has had a solid 2020 on the court, but the Adria tour fiasco, talking about changing the energy of water, refusing vaccines, and now this incident, shows that he has some maturing to do off the court.
This now leads the draw wide open. Is it Thiem’s turn? Can an in-form Zverev finally make his breakthrough on the grand slam stage? Or is it time for Medvedev, Berrettini, or even Felix Auger-Aliassime?
What do you think of the Djokovic default and who will benefit the most in his absence?