A reflective Novak Djokovic said Monday that he broke the rules and deserved his disqualification from the U.S. Open.
In his first comments to reporters since an errant ball he hit in frustration struck a line judge in the throat, leading to his default, Djokovic said he is ready to take the court again at the Italian Open this week.
"When you hit the ball like that, as I hit it, you have a chance to hit somebody that is on the court, and the rules are clear when it comes to that," Djokovic said at a news conference in Rome in advance of the tournament. "I accepted it, and I had to move on. That's what I did."
The No. 1 seed in the U.S. Open, he was trailing Pablo Carreno Busta 6-5 in the first set in the Round of 16 on Sept. 6 when he smacked the ball in the direction of the line judge. He admitted that he had committed similar acts before but vowed to try to do better.
"I'm working mentally and emotionally as hard as I am working physically," Djokovic, 33, said. "I'm trying to be the best version of myself on the court and off the court and I understand that I have outbursts and this is kind of the personality and the player that I have always been."
Dominic Thiem of Austria, the tournament's second seed, won the U.S. Open championship on Sunday in an epic, five-set battle with Alexander Zverev of Germany, and Djokovic lauded them for their sportsmanship in a statement posted to Twitter on Monday.
"This is what sport is all about. Respect, appreciation and friendship. Thank you Domi and Sasha for standing strong for your character values and seeing always what matters the most -- love respect for each other. Congratulations to both of you."
This is what sport is all about. Respect, appreciation and friendship. Thank you ???? Domi and Sasha for standing strong for your character values and seeing always what matters the most -- love amp; respect for each other. Congratulations to both of you. @ThiemDomi @AlexZverev USOpen pic.twitter.com/BrqUr06CS5
- Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) September 14, 2020