Djokovic learned 'big lesson' from US Open default

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Novak Djokovic of Serbia tends to line judge Laura Clark who was hit with the ball during his US Open fourth round match against Pablo Carreno Busta on 6 September 2020.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia tends to line judge Laura Clark who was hit with the ball during his US Open fourth round match against Pablo Carreno Busta on 6 September 2020.
Al Bello/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic said Monday he had learned a "big lesson" from his US Open disqualification but the volatile Serb would not rule out a similar outburst in the future.

"I understand that I have outbursts, and this is kind of the personality and the player that I have always been," Djokovic told journalists before his Italian Open campaign in Rome.

The four-time Rome winner was speaking for the first time since his dramatic last 16 default in New York after he accidentally struck a line judge with a ball hit in frustration.

"I don't think I will ever forget about it, because it's one of these things that stays in your memory for the rest of your life," said Djokovic.

"Of course, I'm not perfect. I have flaws.

"Obviously I went through ups and downs in my career, managing to control my emotions more or less.

"It's a lot of intensity and a lot of pressure. You have to deal with all of that.

"So sometimes the situations like this happen. I cannot promise or I cannot guarantee that I will never ever do anything similar to that in my life. I don't know.

"I mean, I definitely am going to try my best that something like that never happens again, obviously."

Djokovic squandered a golden opportunity to add to his 17 Grand Slam titles in New York, with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer both absent from the tournament.

"I'm working mentally and emotionally as hard as I'm working physically, trying to be the best version of myself on the court and off the court," he said.

"But anything is possible in life. I'm going to take this in as profound as possible for me as a big lesson."

"Of course it was very hard for me to accept right after it happened," continued the 33-year-old.

"For a couple of days I was in shock, and I was shaken by the whole default thing.

"I checked with (the line judge) after the match. She said that she was fine. No big injuries.

"But, yeah, I mean, it was totally unexpected and very unintended, as well, of course to hit her.

"But as I said, when you hit the ball like that, as I hit it, you know, you have a chance to hit somebody that is on the court.

"The rules are clear, so I accepted it, and I had to move on. I have my first chance here in Rome."

World number two Rafael Nadal, bidding for a 10th Rome title, said he was "sorry" for Djokovic, adding "it's important to have the right self-control on the court, because if not, you can be unlucky as he was."

Djokovic is the top seed in Rome ahead of Nadal in the tuneup for the final Grand Slam of the season at the French Open which begins on September 27.

The Serb has just moved level with Pete Sampras for the number of weeks spent at the top of the world ranking with 286, behind record holder Federer's 310.

His frustration at the US Open was compounded as he had not been beaten in 2020 and felt "really good, hitting the ball really nicely and confident."

Recipient of a first round bye he was now eager to start in Rome, possibly on Wednesday, to turn the page.

"It's good to have a tournament that comes a week, 10 days later.

"The sooner I resume competition, the faster I will overcome this memory."

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