Novak Djokovic: A Never Ending Battle with Controversy

Written by: Jagat 

Edited by: Lucas 

Visual by: Johanna 

The tennis world has been flooded with controversy in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, and the legendary Novak Djokovic, the number 1 ranked player by the Association of Tennis Professionals, has consistently made the front page.

Since his disastrous attempt to revive professional tennis during lockdown with his own tournament, the “Adria Tour”, which got many participating players infected, Novak has managed to turn the attention away from his mistakes with a blistering return to the tennis scene. While looking sharper than ever, Novak’s notorious bad temper on the court has unfortunately seen a resurgence.

Novak has once again hit mainstream media after he was controversially disqualified from the US Open, which he was predicted to win given his dominance in last week’s Cincinnati Masters. The incident ruling his disqualification occurred when Djokovic suffered a break of his serve, after which he hit the ball backwards in frustration, striking a female line umpire in the throat.

Later that day, Djokovic humbly took to social media to apologize for the incident, writing “I apologize to the @usopen tournament and everyone associated with my behavior,” and adding that he needed to “turn this all into a lesson for [his] growth and evolution as a player and human being.”

The disqualification was polarizing among fans, begging the question – was the ruling justified? 

From the video taken, it is clearly seen that Djokovic had hit it in the direction of the lineswoman by accident. He hit the ball with his head down and looked to the side only after striking the ball, rushing to help the line judge after she fell. Many fans online are urging the disqualification to be reconsidered, defending Djokovic in saying that the incident was harmless to the line judge, who was seen to be walking normally after initially being winded. 

Nonetheless, in agreement with the Grand Slam rulebook, hitting the ball recklessly without regard to the potential consequences is a default-worthy offence. When these fits happen and someone gets hurt, officials have no choice but to default the match.

Players at the elite level are role models to many around the globe. Even though they are still human, players need to learn to channel their anger into each rally and keep their composure when the whole world is watching. This would ensure the safety of the people around them and prevent impressionable fans from following suit with bad behavior. Even though Djokovic may have not intended to harm anyone, it can be argued that these disqualifications are necessary to set a precedent for what is expected of players.