Novak Djokovic was defaulted from the 2020 US Open after he accidentally hit a lineswoman with a ball during his fourth round match against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta. The World No. 1's departure has blown a huge hole in the men's draw, but the incident has had ramifications even beyond that.
Djokovic's disqualification has garnered sharply divided reactions from the tennis community; some believe the right decision was taken, while others believe he was punished too harshly. Recently, on an edition of the NCR Tennis Podcast, well-known journalist Ben Rothenberg also gave his views on Novak Djokovic's default at Flushing Meadows.
The American spoke about the supposed 'entitlement' of top ranked-players like Novak Djokovic when it came to situations like these, and claimed that the Serb has a history of reckless on-court behavior.
It is non-accidental that it happened to Novak Djokovic: Ben Rothenberg
Rothenberg pointed out that Novak Djokovic was a long-standing threat for putting court personnel in danger of physical injury. The Serb famously made a narrow escape at the 2016 French Open, when he almost struck a linesman with his racquet.
"I think it's non-accidental that it happened to Novak Djokovic. People don't normally hit lines judges in the throat. Because I played his clip at the 2016 ATP Finals, Novak has made a habit out of acting recklessly on the court with his equipment," Rothenberg said.
"At French Open 2016, he threw his racquet behind him and a very quick-footed linesman behind him stepped out of its way, it was coming for his head. So that was the moment. Novak Djokovic is not the only player who does it, but he was specially spirited about he was being unfairly talked about for doing this at the WTFs," he added.
At the 2016 French Open, Novak Djokovic was asked whether he feared running out of luck one day and actually hitting someone on the court in a fit of anger. But Djokovic brushed aside the question, saying that he didn't think too much about such matters.
But Djokovic's indifference came back to haunt him at the Open on Sunday, as he was dumped out of a tournament in which he was the overwhelming favorite to win.
Novak Djokovic thinks he can do whatever he wants and be fine with it: Ben Rothenberg
Ben Rothenberg also wondered if Novak Djokovic's opponent Pablo Carreno Busta would have been defended by anyone if he had injured an on-court official. The American journalist believes that top tennis players often escape the letter of the law and do whatever they please.
"There was a vine, which I can't interlink here, where a kid shouts 'When will you learn?' This is what I think about the top players and especially Novak. There's this default, but Novak's whole year has been thinking he can do whatever he wants and be fine with it," Rothenberg said.
"Whether it's all the way from changing water molecules with your mind to playing Adria Tour during a pandemic, being a super-spreader event in a country that was otherwise doing well," he added.
The American spoke out against Novak Djokovic's fanbase as well, who have been working in overdrive to try and acquit their idol from the 2020 USO controversy.
"Novak and his fans have been hiding behind the defense of 'Oh, but the intentions were so good. I only had the best intentions'. As if that matters; it does not, folks. If you're on a drive to donate clothes but you run over a child on a bicycle on the way there, the trip doesn't really matter in the end," the American continued.
According to Rothenberg, this was not the first time Novak Djokovic had acted without fear of consequence. He claimed that deriving energy from turmoil is one of Djokovic's strengths, which in some cases can come back to hurt him.
"Novak has so much fire in him at all times, some of it escapes out of him at times. I think it's his personality to not be conscientious about other people and the consequences," Rothenberg added.Published 10 Sep 2020, 13:06 IST