Tennis teammate John McEnroe said on Sunday that the Serbian professional would be “the bad guy of the rest of his career” after accidentally hitting a line judge with a tennis ball on Sunday in a stunning series of events that saw him eliminated from the tournament. just the fourth round of the race.
“I think the pressure has come,” McEnroe told ESPN. “I think a lot has gone off the field, obviously affecting him. And now, whether he likes it or not, he will be the bad guy for the rest of his career. It will be interesting to see how he handles it.”
The accident “obviously had no intention”, McEnroe added, saying that he understands that “the rules state that you must treat everyone the same”.
“I did not say he could not recover. “If he embraces that role, I think he could absolutely recover,” said McEnroe – who was known to suck at tennis officials throughout his career. He chases the story, he tries to pass Rafa [Nadal] and Roger [Federer], we all know, he is younger. “
“It’s a lot of things for him, obviously, but this is obviously a stain he won’t be able to erase, whether he likes it or not. … It’s emotionally how he handles it. It’s not about the physical part and growing up.” , he added.
The accident shocked Djokovic’s bid for an 18th Grand Slam title. The overwhelming favorite came to the tournament, having a 26-0 start this season.
As he changed after a game against his opponent, Pablo Carreno Bust, Djokovic – after he had just left his serve – hit a ball behind him, a common move for players who had just finished a game during which served.
However, this ball hit a line judge, who could be seen in the video falling to her knees. Arthur Ashe Stadium and reaching her throat.
An in-court discussion ensued with officials, including tournament referee Soeren Friemel. Then the referee Aurelie Tourte announced the pre-selection, shocking the tennis world and throwing an unexpected upset in the tournament.
The U.S. Tennis Association said in a statement that Djokovic was “defrauded” by his actions and that he would lose “all the ranking points earned” in the tournament, and that “a fine will be imposed on anyone who wins the tournament or all fines imposed in connection with the offensive event. “
In the past, players who have hit balls out of anger or frustration and accidentally hit a line judge or a ball face have been eliminated from tournaments.
In an Instagram post on Sunday, Djokovic apologized, saying the situation had left him “really sad and empty”.
“I checked on the line person and the tournament told me that I thank God that he feels okay [sic]”He wrote.” I’m sorry I caused her so much stress. So involuntarily. So wrong. I do not reveal her name to respect her privacy. “
“As for the exclusion, I have to go back and work on my frustration and turn it all into a lesson in my growth and development as a player and human being. I apologize for the @usopen tournament and everyone involved in the behavior. “I am very grateful to my team and family for their support of rock and my fans who have always been there with me.”
“Thank you and I’m very sorry.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.