World No. 1 Novak Djokovic caused a lot of controversy on Sunday when he was defaulted from the US Open after hitting a lineswoman with a ball in anger. Djokovic's disqualification has only added to his tumultuous 2020 season, and stalled the Serb's bid to go unbeaten for the year.
Frustration got the better of the 17-time Major winner in his fourth round match, and he swatted a ball towards the wall in anger. As fate would have it, that ball ended up striking the lineswoman on the throat, causing her serious distress.
After the lady recovered, Novak Djokovic tried to plead his case with the officials, insisting that he never intended to hurt her. However, the officials went strictly by the rule-book and sent the Serb packing.
Novak Djokovic is not the first player to be defaulted in this manner. British tennis legend Tim Henman, who faced a similar fate at one point of his career, recently spoke to Telegraph.uk about Djokovic's default at the 2020 US Open.
Henman also compared his own situation then with Djokovic's, naming some key differences in both scenarios.
There were distinct similarities between my case and Novak Djokovic's: Tim Henman
At the 1995 Wimbledon Championships, Tim Henman and his doubles partner Jeremy Bates were disqualified when Henman struck a ball girl in the head during a doubles match. The Brit angrily reacted to losing a point by hitting a ball with full force, which accidentally hit a ball girl in the ear.
Just like Novak Djokovic, Henman didn't intend to hurt anyone either. That was the single most important similarity in the two controversies, according to the former World No. 4.
"There were distinct similarities between my case and Novak Djokovic's. We both hit the ball away in frustration and deserved a default," Henman said.
However, the Brit went on to talk about how the two situations were not similar - in that Henman and Djokovic had very different statures at the time of their respective offenses.
"Where they're very different is that I was 20 years old, had just won my first ever singles match at Wimbledon a couple of days before and was ranked around 180, Whereas Novak Djokovic is the World No. 1," Henman said.
Unlike Novak Djokovic, Henman attended the press conference after his default
Grief-stricken by his unfortunate exit, Novak Djokovic was in no mood to entertain the media in a post-match press conference. The World No. 1 decided to skip the mandatory presser and was fined $260,000 for his no-show, facing further criticism for that.
Unlike Djokovic, Henman actually attended his post-match interview where, as he recalled, the media immediately pounced on him.
"The first question was 'How do you feel about being the first person in 120 years to be disqualified at Wimbledon?'" Henman said.
Drawing a parallel between the media reactions faced by Novak Djokovic and himself, Henman continued:
"I remember the headline was, 'He hit it so hard he could have killed her.' That was massively inaccurate and an unhelpful quote."
Henman also stated that the whole fiasco motivated him to produce better results, as he did not want the disqualification at Wimbledon to be his career highlight. Perhaps Novak Djokovic will take inspiration from Henman and not be too bogged down by the incident, and instead focus on the French Open which is scheduled to kick off on 27 September.Published 08 Sep 2020, 14:15 IST