Rafa Nadal questions Novak Djokovic's temper after US Open default

‘It’s important to have the right self-control on court’: Rafa Nadal questions Novak Djokovic’s temperament after US Open default for hitting a line judge but insists the world No 1 was ‘unlucky’

  • Djokovic defaulted at the US Open after hitting a ball that struck a line judge
  • Serbian world No 1 admitted he couldn’t guarantee there won’t be a repeat
  • Nadal entered the debate by talking about the importance of ‘self-control’
  • Spaniard said rules are in place for a reason and the default was the right call 

Rafa Nadal has questioned Novak Djokovic’s ‘self-control’ in the wake of his US Open default for swiping a ball that hit a line judge in the throat.

Djokovic – who admitted on Monday that he can’t guarantee such an incident won’t happen again – was overwhelming favourite to win the New York slam before the incident.

Nadal wasn’t at the US Open because of coronavirus concerns but has offered his thoughts on the matter ahead of his own return to action at the Italian Open this week.

Rafa Nadal (left) has spoken on the importance of ‘self-control’ on court in the wake of Novak Djokovic’s (right) default at the US Open for striking a ball that hit a line judge in the throat

Djokovic was booted out of the US Open for striking a line judge Laura Clark with a ball

Djokovic was immediately disqualified after the incident as his US Open hopes were ended

The Spaniard said: ‘The consequences have been always the same. Nothing new on that.

‘Novak was unlucky. [But] The rules clearly say that’s a default. Sorry for him. He had an opportunity there.

‘But in some ways you should not be doing this.

‘It’s very unfortunate, very unlucky situation. But it’s important to have the right self-control on the court, because if not, you can be unlucky.’

Nadal opens his Italian Open campaign against Pablo Carreno Busta on Tuesday.

Nadal, in Rome for this week’s Italian Open, said Djokovic was ‘unlucky’ but also said the default rules were in place for a reason and said ‘you should not be doing this’

Djokovic pictured in Rome on Monday ahead of the Italian Open tournament this week

World No 1 Djokovic, also in Rome for the tournament, spoke on Monday about the incident that saw him strike a stray ball that hit Laura Clark in the throat and led to a fourth round default as he chased an 18th Grand Slam title.

And the Serbian admitted his volcanic on-court nature leaves him struggling to control his emotions and could well get him in trouble again in the future.

‘I understand I have outbursts and this is the personality and the player that I have always been,’ he said.

‘I cannot promise or guarantee I will never ever do anything similar to that in my life. I am definitely willing to try my best so that something like that never happens again.’

Djokovic, 33, also admitted that something similar could have happened to him earlier on in his career.

The Serbian admitted his occasional volcanic temperament could get him in trouble again

He said: ‘It’s the first time in my career that something like this happens — of course it could have happened earlier in my career or could have happened to many players.

‘The ball hits a line judge, it was just unfortunate that I hit the umpire in a very awkward place.

‘I checked on Laura after the match. She said she was fine, that there are no injuries.

‘I felt really sorry to cause the shock and drama to her. She didn’t deserve that in any way. She was obviously volunteering as well and doing her work. 

‘The rules are clear so I accepted it, I had to move on. Of course, I have not forgotten about it. I don’t think I will ever forget about it.

‘These things stay in your memory for the rest of your life, but I don’t think I will have any issues coming back to the tour and being able to perform well.’

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