Comment: Novak Djokovic cannot play victim this time and needs to accept responsibility for petulance
Not for the first time in his career and not even for the first time in 2020, Novak Djokovic found a way to make a bad situation even worse.
While there is no doubt that Djokovic was unfortunate to strike a line judge with a ball that resulted in his instant default from the US Open, the world No 1 had the opportunity to stand up to his responsibilities to the game, own up to his mistake and gracefully walk away from his latest on-court error.
Yet instead of fronting to his disappointment, fulfilling his media duties and representing his sport in the manner befitting a legend of his stature, Djokovic made a hasty exit from the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre as he ran away from his latest controversy.
As was the case when he fronted up the ill-fated Adria Tour that included a players party in a nightclub that contributed to a host of participants contracting the Covid-19 virus, Djokovic was at fault for a serious lack of judgement at an event that poured shame on tennis and now here we are again.
USTA statement on default of Novak Djokovic: pic.twitter.com/dqlt0mokg9
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 6, 2020
Djokovic suggested he was being victimised when the media coverage lambasted him for his role in organising a tennis event at the peak of a global pandemic and now the snipers are questioning his judgement again after he refused to own his latest controversy.
“He is obviously not thinking particularly clearly now. He should have done the press conference,” former British No 1 Tim Henman told Amazon Prime Sport. “It was a mistake. He didn’t mean to do it, but it is a default, it’s as simple as that.
“In the coming 24 to 48 hours, the team around him are going to play an important part in telling him that he needs to take stock of this. He needs to accept responsibility and apologise.
“There is no excuse for not doing the media and not apologising. He needs to deal with this incident, first and foremost.”
Djokovic’s long conversation with USTA officials appear to see him claiming the decision to default him from the US Open was misguided as the official was not badly hurt in the incident, but that will not reflect well on him as the rules clearly state the correct decision was made.
If this was the first time Djokovic has come close to crossing this precise line on a tennis court, there may be more sympathy for his plight. But a tense exchange with a journalist at the 2016 ATP Finals in London confirms the Serb has form for this kind of thing as lost control of his temper on the court and smashed a ball in anger.
In his opening match of the tournament against Dominic Thiem, Djokovic was fortunate not be defaulted after smashing the ball into the crowd in anger, but he turned on the media when they asked him about the incident after the game.
This from four years ago as Novak Djokovic accuses the media of picking on his for his habit of smashing balls around the court in anger.
— Kevin Palmer (@RealKevinPalmer) September 6, 2020
“You guys are unbelievable, you’re always picking these kind of things,” he snapped back when asked whether he feared he might be thrown out of the event for hitting the ball in anger.
“It could have been, yes,” he added before sarcastically saying: “It could have snowed in the O2 Arena (indoor), as well, but it didn’t. It is not an issue for me.”
Well, it is an issue now as the red-hot favourite to win the US Open let his temper get the better of him once more as the first set of this match against Pablo Carreno Busta started to turn against him as he lost his serve and paid the ultimate price for failing to control his emotions.
Djokovic released an apology on Instagram after what appeared to be a petulant exit from the Flushing Meadows site, but he should have faced up to the camera and avoided the impression that he wanted to play the role of the victim once again.
In this blockbuster story, Djokovic needs to take a different path and ensure he does the right thing and accept the errors of his ways.
Follow Kevin Palmer on Twitter @RealKevinPalmer
Follow us on Twitter @T365Official.
‘Really unjustified’ – Boris Becker leaps to Novak Djokovic’s defence over his quarantine pleas
Boris Becker believes world No.1 Novak Djokovic has come in for unfair criticism after writing a letter to Australian Open chiefs.
Umpire suffers heart attack as another Australian Open player tests positive for Covid-19
Spanish player Paula Badosa has announced she has tested positive for coronavirus during quarantine in Australia.
Laura Robson unsure about tennis future after third hip operation
The 27-year-old said her priority now is to live a pain-free life.
Andy Murray believes he can still play at the Australian Open as he plots return to action
Former world No.1 Andy Murray is still hopeful of playing in next month’s Australian Open.
Players are urged not to feed the mice in their hotel rooms as Heather Watson turns to Tik Tok
Britain’s Heather Watson has turned to Tik…
On this day in 2014: Stan Wawrinka ends Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open run
The Swiss won a five-set epic to deny Djokovic a piece of history.
Novak Djokovic hits back at allegations of being ‘selfish, difficult and ungrateful’
Djokovic says he finds it tough to be ‘a mere onlooker’.
Australian Open boss defends ‘better deal’ for the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams
Big-name players self-isolating in Adelaide.
Rotterdam Open boss reveals delight as ‘one of his all-time favourite players’ Rafael Nadal joins field
Rafael Nadal will return to Rotterdam.
Roberto Bautista Agut says quotes comparing quarantine to ‘jail, but with WiFi’ was ‘taken out of context’
Roberto Bautista Agut issues an apology.