Novak Djokovic showed little concern over his behaviour in 2016 after hitting the ball into the crowd at the ATP Finals – months after he came close to hitting an official with his racquet.
The clip, which sees Djokovic respond angrily to a reporter who called him out for his conduct, has come back to haunt the World No 1 after he was disqualified from the US Open for smashing a ball at a line judge.
Frustrated after being broken by Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, he inadvertently hit the ball backwards without looking – striking the throat of the female official, who keeled over on court. After a ten-minute deliberation between Referee Soeren Friemel and by umpire Aurelie Tourte, he was defaulted from the tournament.
A clip from 2016 has emerged showing Novak Djokovic brushing off concerns over his conduct
The Serbian laughs after being questioned about hitting a ball into the crowd at the ATP finals
The World No 1 was disqualified from the US Open after inadvertently hitting a line judge
The four-year-old clip starts with the journalist mentioning an incident at the French Open in the same year, where Djokovic flung his racquet backwards and nearly hit a line judge.
He is then asked whether he is concerned about his continued behaviour after his 3-set win over Dominic Thiem in London, with a reporter asking ‘Does it concern you one day that will cost you dearly? If it hit someone today, is that something you’ve got to address’.
Djokovic begins to laugh and says: ‘You guys are unbelievable. You’re always picking these kind of things.’
When told that he ‘keeps doing these things’, he hits back: ‘I keep doing these things? Why don’t I get suspended then?’
Djokovic previously said his behaviour was ‘not an issue’ after showing frustrations on court
The journalist then reminds him a spectator could have been seriously hurt if the ball had struck someone, to which he replied: ‘It could have been, yes. It could have snowed in O2 arena, as well, but it didn’t.’
He then claims he has no fears over his frustrations and insists he is not the only player who behaves in the same way.
‘I’m the only player that shows his frustration on the court? That’s what you are saying? It is not an issue for me. It’s not the first time I did it.’
After striking the line judge at the US Open on Sunday, Djokovic was apologetic but defended himself as he pleaded for leniency.
The line judge keeled over after being struck in the throat after Djokovic hit a ball towards her
He pleaded his innocence with officials after the incident but they were left with little choice
‘She doesn’t have to go to the hospital for this,’ he said. ‘You’re going to choose a default in this situation? My career, Grand Slam, centre stage?’
Later he issued a full apology to the lineswoman, who is yet to be named, saying he was ‘extremely sorry to have caused her such stress’ and vowed to work on his ‘growth as a human being’.
‘This whole situation has left me really sad and empty,’ he said in his post. ‘I checked on the lines person and the tournament told me that thank God she is feeling OK. I’m extremely sorry to have caused her such stress.
He has vowed to work on his ‘growth as a player and human being’ after his disqualification
‘So unintended. So wrong. I’m not disclosing her name to respect her privacy. 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 apologise to the 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.’
The incident has drawn criticism from a number of tennis stars. Former British No 1 Greg Rusedski told Amazon Prime: ‘It’s a very difficult situation but he should have come into press, taken responsibility and apologised for the situation.
Meanwhile, fiery star Nick Kyrgios, who has a history of bad temper on court, ran a poll on his Twitter account as he asked his followers: ‘Swap me for jokers (Djokovic) incident. “Accidentally hitting the ball kid in the throat” how many years would I be banned for?’
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