‘He dragged himself into the mud by making a silly mistake,’ says Novak Djokovic’s former Davis Cup coach
Serbia’s Davis Cup-winning coach Bogdan Obradovic admits he “feels sorry” for Novak Djokovic after he was defaulted from the US Open, but insists the rules “are clear and they apply to everyone”.
World No 1 Djokovic was thrown out of the hard-court Grand Slam on Sunday after he accidentally hit a line judge with a ball during his fourth-round match against Pablo Carreño Busta from Spain.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner, frustrated after dropping his serve at 6-5, wanted to return a ball to a ball kid, but instead he hit the official in the throat.
After lengthy discussions with tournament officials, Djokovic was defaulted and he later issued an apology on social media.
Obradovic, who was coach of the Serbia team when they won their only Davis Cup in 2010, says “there is no excuse for putting someone in harms’ way”.
“He drove through a red light,” he told Reuters. “I feel sorry for him because he was in good form and on course to win his 18th Grand Slam title, but the rules on ball and racket abuse are clear and they apply to everyone.
“He dragged himself into the mud by making a silly mistake in unfortunate circumstances. We are all human and we all vent our frustrations sometimes, but there is no excuse for putting someone in harms’ way, albeit unintentionally.
“The most important thing is that the lady is fine and people saying that it wasn’t that bad should really revisit that position and put themselves in her shoes.”
Obradovic admits officials could have been “more lenient”, but also feels his compatriot should not have put himself in such a situation in the first place.
“To be honest, I was hoping for more lenient punishment because Djokovic saved this year’s US Open by entering the tournament amid the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.
“(Rafael) Nadal pulled out and (Roger) Federer is recovering from knee surgery so they really needed him there. But it’s as if they couldn’t wait to expel him.
“Then again, he gave them cause with a reckless reaction. Very unfortunate, but he will recover from this and move on because he is mentally strong.”
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