Patel: Djokovic’s Case Should Set an Example for Other Players


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Novak Djokovic chance of winning the US Open were ruined due to his disqualification.

Vidhi Patel, Staff Writer

On Sunday, the U.S. Open continued with Novak Djokovic playing Pablo Carreño Busta. Djokovic was most likely going to win another Grand Slam title, especially with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal not competing in the tournament. Although Djokovic is not known for his anger like other players, he can sometimes let his frustration get to him. At one particular point after an unforced error, Djokovic, frustrated with himself, pulled out a ball, and hit it with his racket without looking. Unfortunately for him, the ball ended up hitting a line judge’s throat. Djokovic was defaulted, which was completely appropriate. He should have never put himself in a situation where his anger caused harm to someone. What he did was simply not ethical as a tennis player, a professional at that. 

Now a person who regularly watches him play would think, “With all of the ball control and aim he has, how could he just so happen to hit a linesperson in the throat?” Maybe he was just unlucky because if he were thinking and aiming specifically, he would not have hit her. But that’s the thing—he was definitely not thinking. Although his hitting the linesperson was completely accidental, he put himself in that position when he hit the ball. 

Tournament rules for the U.S. Open are stated in the ITF’s Official Grand Slam Rule Book. Djokovic’s actions fell under both “ball abuse” and “unsportsmanlike conduct.” Because these were his first offenses, he could only be warned or defaulted. It may not sound ideal or fair, but they are the rules. As a tennis player, I understand that I must abide by these rules and Djokovic, as a professional tennis player, is sure to also understand this. This matter seems way too serious for it to simply be a warning, so I agree that the best decision was for him to be defaulted. Djokovic himself did not seem to argue with the decision, although he did plead his case beforehand. 

So now that that’s settled, fans are starting to bring up past tennis incidents to argue that their favorite player shouldn’t have been disqualified. One particular instance being brought up is with one of Djokovic’s biggest rivals, Roger Federer. Federer is well liked by fans and much more respected in the tennis community than Djokovic. This should not be a factor at all, but many fans think it is. In a 2006 match, Roger Federer hit a ball boy in the chest with a ball but did not get disqualified. No penalty or warning, because neither was warranted. If you look at the video, Federer was simply aiming in the direction, so the boy would not have to run and get the ball; unlike Djokovic who hit a ball out of anger. At the end of the day, tennis is not about the better athlete, but about the better player, attitude and all. 

So was this a tough decision for the umpire to make? Definitely. On the one hand, if they did not give a harsh punishment, the tournament would receive backlash for giving Djokovic an easy punishment because of who he is. On the other hand, if he was given a harsh punishment, it would be ruled unfair by many. Did they make the right decision? I think so. A warning would have been lenient. While this is unfortunate, what happened has happened, and I hope this decision will cause other players to think twice before letting their anger get the best of them and is what will be used as a basis for all future ones. With this bound to go down in history, other tennis players should remember that every player faces consequences, even the best.