Pathetic and petulant: Video that shows Djokovic won’t learn

 

Bad habits and Novak Djokovic on a tennis court don't readily fit into the same sentence apart from one thing - the inane and dangerous practice of carelessly clouting tennis balls away in frustration.

The Serb's arrogance - a requisite quality in grand slam battle - is usually reserved for throttling opponents into submission, as evidenced by a hitherto perfect season.

Until Flushing Meadows and a tense fourth-round match with an unyielding Pablo Carreno Busta.

Unable to control his emotions after dropping serve, Djokovic swiped an underarmed forehand towards the back of the court, striking a lineswoman and causing her to tumble onto the court.

Novak Djokovic disqualified for hitting line judge with ball. Picture: Eurosport
Novak Djokovic disqualified for hitting line judge with ball. Picture: Eurosport

Match over. Tournament over. Dreams of another grand slam title shattered.

Unfortunately for Djokovic, the incident had been in the making for almost all of his career.

With an 18th major title seemingly at his mercy with the field ravaged by COVID-19 absentees, Djokovic's self-entitlement might yet cost him history in the race to catch Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (19).

That he was allowed to argue his case for so long with officials after the incident is pathetic.

He ought to have been marched as swiftly as Ken Farrar, Peter Bellenger and Gerry Armstrong dealt with foul-mouthed John McEnroe at the 1990 Australian Open.

That he walked out of the stadium today without attending post-match interviews to explain himself is entirely predictable and petulant.

For more reasons than simply tennis, Djokovic has repeatedly shown he believes he operates on a different level to others.

Witness the idiotic behaviour on the Adria Tour. Absorb the self-justification around the breakaway unionisation of tennis - without consulting a single female player. Recoil at the frequency of his ball-belting antics.

 

In truth, Djokovic's disqualification today has been longer in the making than most. He sailed perilously close to eviction in 2016 with meltdowns in Paris and London.

Yet, when confronted over it, this is how he reacted at the Barclays ATP Championship in London after beating Dominic Thiem.

Question: Back to the end of the first set, we saw you similarly venting your frustration at Roland Garros, throwing your racquet. Does it concern you one day that will cost you dearly? If it hit someone...

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You guys (media) are unbelievable.

Q. Why is it unbelievable?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Because you're always picking these kind of things.

Q. If you keep doing these things...

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I keep doing these things? Why don't you get suspended then?

Q. You were close, weren't you?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm close? I'm still not suspended, so if I'm not close, I'm not close.

Q. If that ball had hit a spectator, it could have been serious.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It could have been, yes. It could have snowed in O2 arena, as well, but it didn't.

Q. You're not concerned about your mindset?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I'm the only player that shows his frustration on the court? That's what you are saying?

Q. You're one of the top-ranked players in the world.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: So?

Q. You are showing this frustration. I'm asking you, do you think it's an issue for you?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It is not an issue for me. It's not the first time I did it.

The last answer resonates with devastating clarity today. It is so loud even Djokovic would have heard it.

Will he heed it? Don't bet on it.

Originally published as Pathetic and petulant: Video that shows Djokovic won't learn


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