NOVAK DJOKOVIC hopes his moment of US Open madness will not tarnish his sporting legacy.
But the world No1, who was left in shock for several days by the unexpected default, conceded: This will haunt me for a long time.”
Novak Djokovic hopes his legacy hasn’t been tarnished by his US Open shameCredit: USA TODAY Sports
Djokovic accidentally fired a ball at a line-judge’s face
The Serbian, 33, was booted out of the New York Grand Slam when he unintentionally hit a ball against a line judge.
It sent shockwaves across the sporting landscape and Djokovic flew back to Europe in a state of disbelief.
It wasn’t the first time he had produced an unnecessary outburst on court but this time it cost him dearly.
Asked if this could affect how people view him, regardless of how many majors he eventually wins, Djokovic said: “I don’t know.
“I’ll leave that to other people and their judgement.
“Of course I’m not perfect, I have flaws.
“Whether that is going to stay as something that people will always remember I don’t know. Time will tell, I guess.”
Djokovic contacted Laura Clark to check she was OK after hitting her with a ballCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Djokovic is currently training in Rome ahead of the Italian OpenCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Djokovic says he contacted hurt line judge Laura Clark after the incident, before jetting home to prepare for the Italian Open.
He has a bye to the second round in Rome with everyone acutely aware the rescheduled French Open starts a week on Sunday.
And speaking for the first time about the disqualification, the 17-time Slam champion said: “Of course it was a shock to finish the US Open the way it finished.
“First time in my career that something like this happened.
“Of course it could have happened earlier in my career you know, could have happened to many players.
“There was a lot of speculation and discussions whether it was deserved or not. I accepted it and I moved on.
“I checked on Laura after the match, she said that she was fine, that there were no injuries.
“I felt really sorry to cause the shock and drama to her. She didn’t deserve that in any way.
“Life just arranged for things to happen in that way. The rules are clear when it comes to that so I accepted it.”
Laura Clark was hit in the face by the stray ball whacked away in anger by DjokovicCredit: AP:Associated Press
Djokovic is back in Europe for the Italian Open, still shaken from his US exitCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Djokovic continued: “I don’t think I’ll ever forget about it. These things stay in your memory for the rest of your life.
“I don’t think I’ll have any major issues coming back to the Tour and being able to perform well.
“The earlier I get back on the competition mode the faster I will overcome that memory and kind of re-programme.
“I’m working mentally and emotionally as hard as I am working physically, trying to be the best version of myself on and off the court.
“I understand that I have outbursts and this is the personality and the player that I have always been.
“Obviously I have gone through ups and downs in my career and managed to control my emotions more or less, but you are alone out there.
“It’s a lot of intensity and a lot of pressure and you have to deal with a lot of that. Sometimes situations like this happen.
“I cannot promise or guarantee I’ll never ever do anything similar to that in my life.
“I’m definitely willing to try my best so that something like that never happens again.
“I need to embrace it and kind of welcome it as a great lesson. As weird as it sounds, I must try to befriend that kind of experience.
“I understand it’s very unusual for me, for anybody in the tennis world and I understand that that’s something that is going to stick with me for many years.”