World no. 1 Novak Djokovic will kick off his Roland Garros campaign on Tuesday, seeking the second Major title in Paris and 18th overall. The Serb has won two ATP titles in Cincinnati and Rome since the season restart, missing a chance of fighting for the US Open crown after experiencing the first default of his career.
Speaking about that, Novak said he has moved on, leaving the mistake behind him and focusing on his future challenges. Novak had been the player to beat in 2020 before that fourth-round clash in New York, winning all 26 encounters and lifting trophies at the ATP Cup, the Australian Open, Dubai and Cincinnati, attempting to win the 18th Major title at the US Open.
After passing the opening three rounds, Novak had to leave the court earlier than expected against Pablo Carreno Busta, experiencing the first career default! Facing the Spaniard on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Novak wasted three set points on the return at 5-4, lost temper and suffered a break in the next game to push the opponent 6-5 in front.
Frustrated with the outcome and shoulder pain due to a nasty fall, Novak hit the lineswoman with the ball, causing her to fall and fight for air under the mask. Even though there were no intentions from world no. 1, the officials had to default him after a lengthy conversation.
Novak was delivering one good hold after another since the start of the encounter, creating a break opportunity at 4-3. Carreno Busta saved it to remain in touch, facing an even more challenging task at 4-5. Djokovic had three set points up for grabs, losing the next five points and throwing the ball in anger towards a banner, in the first big moment for this story.
Novak Djokovic will not look back at the US Open incident.
The momentum had switched to the Spaniard’s side, as Pablo forged a 30-0 lead in the 11th game before Djokovic took a medical timeout for the left should injury following that fall.
Carreno Busta broke at 15 to move 6-5 in front, just a couple of moments before Novak hit that ball that cost him a chance of fighting for the 18th Major crown, knocking down the lineswoman and leaving the court after a couple of minutes spent in a conversation with the officials.
“From now on, I will be cautious every time I hit a ball off the court. This event stayed in my mind for some time after the US Open, but I am sure I will never make the same mistake twice. What happened happened, I must accept it and continue.
It was a shock for many people and me, but that’s how life and sports are; these things can happen. I don’t think this will have a negative impact or any impact on how I feel on the court. A few days ago, I won the title in Rome just a week after that; I didn’t feel any emotional disturbance or difficulty competing or expressing my emotions in any way.
I always try to leave negative things off the pitch, so I’m not going to carry that any longer. I always try to forgive myself and try to go my way. I am a human being; I have faults like everyone else. After all my years of experience on the tour, I know that these things can happen,” Novak Djokovic said.