The disqualification of events in . However, the framing and conversation around it have at times been inaccurate, confusing and hypocritical. In part, this is due to the speed at which the developments unfolded, but there are other factors at play too. It is now time to attempt a clear and cogent understanding of the situation.from the on September 6 is one of the most talked-about
To begin with, it was incredibly unfortunate and shocking that a lineswoman was injured after Djokovic accidentally struck a ball that hit her in the throat. Consequently, the United StatesAssociation ( ) disqualified him from the 2020 for “intentionally hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences.”
Rafael Nadal’s Expensive Source of Positive Energy
The decision to disqualify, the world number one from Serbia, has led to much debate. Some individuals believe he should have been disqualified, while others think he absolutely did not deserve to be.
I fall in the latter camp, primarily because’s action was wholly unintentional. He wasn’t looking when he hit the ball in frustration. The lineswoman had moved. Even if remembered where she had been, he could not hit her intentionally. Furthermore, he immediately reacted with horror when the ball hit the poor lineswoman’s throat.
The said he wished there could have been another solution that would have enabled to play on. We now know Djokovic proposed he default a point or the set, rather than be disqualified from the tournament itself. I believe this was a viable and perhaps the optimal course of action. I also think because the decision could have gone both ways, and the commentating by pundits has been overly simplified and inaccurate. This has presented a picture that officials had no choice and did what was mandated by the rulebook.commentator John
The punishment handed down to Djokovic is disproportionate and the condemnation he has faced is unfair. There are eight reasons for this.
Eight Reasons for Leniency
First, perhaps I am misreading the situation, but the position that “therulebook mandates a default” line is wrong. The rulebook provides for fines and penalties for what Djokovic did, and the disqualification of Djokovic is within the rights of tournament officials. However, nothing in my quick scan of the relevant portions of the rulebook seems to mandate his default from the . Indeed, the statement does not say this either. In fact, the recent hitting of a photographer with a ball was not punished with a match default.
Second, let’s admit the rulebook is rarely enforced. I started reading parts of it aloud to a family member who said: “If they enforced the rules, you would never finish a tournament. They can’t do that.” Exactly! It seems an estimated 5% of violations were called at the 2020. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think it makes it impossible to claim we have to “enforce” the rules.
Third, I hear some say that Djokovic didn’t go to check up on the lineswoman and that this was terrible. I disagree. Everyone with a remote interest inat this point has seen the shock and horror that Djokovic felt upon realizing he had hit her.
Of course, he was the first one to reach her and tried to help her on the court. It’s not clear it would have been appropriate or helpful for him to demand to see her as she was receiving medical treatment. After all, he is the one who hurt her and she may not have wanted to see him. Besides, Djokovic is aplayer, not a doctor or paramedic. He has no medical experience and would have been unable to help.
Fourth, I don’t believe Djokovic had to immediately speak to the press. His tweet after the match was thoughtful, reflective and rightly apologetic. At the time of the incident, his behavior was indicative of deep remorse. Additionally, the idea that players come out after misbehaving and immediately speak to the press with contrition is a fairly creative reimagining of the sport.
Fifth, I find it somewhat interesting that players who have violated many rules in the past and directed anger, threats or insults to tournament officials are weighing in. It might be worth a quick note that these don’t include many black players. Imagine Naomi Osaka and threats and insults at the provoked a storm even though similar behavior by white male players has gone relatively unnoticed.acting like Ilie or John . In 2009, ’ intentional
dig at is most amusing. I watched Kyrgios at the Citi Open recently, and his behavior struck me as more inappropriate than anything I had seen in 40 years of watching . Had the rules been enforced in that match, I cannot imagine that he would not have faced default for his behavior in any 10-minute period. Still, he is one of the most talented players on tour and remains popular with many fans.’s
Sixth, the whole “he’ll never recover from this” is a ridiculous claim on the part of. It is important to acknowledge that this was an early and probably off-hand statement. But let’s also acknowledge that was also regarded as a brilliant but by far the worst behaved on tour during much of his career.
In contrast,has not exactly been known for bad behavior. Perhaps Djokovic will recover from this as did from his many meltdowns. Unlike Djokovic, rarely apologized and one meltdown followed another. Perhaps Djokovic will become a highly-paid, brilliant and entertaining commentator after he finishes winning .
Seventh, I’ve heard Djokovic was treated differently because he’s a top player, but I think the framing of this argument is wrong. I agree with notedcoach Brad Gilbert that Djokovic was treated differently than he would have been if he was an ordinary player. For instance, there would have been far less discussion of the incident. However, I also think Djokovic is a strong communicator, and that worked in his favor in terms of the time officials granted to him for discussion after the incident. However, if Djokovic was indeed treated differently, is it the case that he was treated more harshly because of who he is and what he represents?
Djokovic launched the ProfessionalPlayers Association (PTPA) just before the . This new organization is a breakaway from the Association of Players ( ). It is a 100% player-only association. Djokovic is in talks with women players to join the PTPA, which may well shape into a player’s union. Should that happen, the PTPA might become an agent of collective bargaining and represent the rights of players more vigorously than the .
It could be the case that the Djokovic might have been harshly penalized for the PTPA. In fact, few commentators or tournament officials supported this move. A strong leader of players potentially taking on all aspects of the game — such as tournament structure, rules and financial rewards — was possibly treated differently to a shy, low-profile player.
Eighth, I believe it is wholly inappropriate and unhelpful to compare Djokovic’s penalties with acts of malice. One who threatens to force a ball down the umpire’s throat or purposefully hits an official — both of which might have criminal liabilities — is behaving in an entirely different way than one who unintentionally hurts a linesperson. It would be interesting to look at all tournament cases of balls hit in anger and the corresponding penalties to see if officials have been consistent in their judgment.
On a lighter note, making an example out of Novak Djokovic might just be what the doctor ordered. Players in the match I saw later that evening were perhaps some of the best-behaved ones I’ve ever seen in men’s tennis. Funny, right?
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.
In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.
We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost money.
Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.
Support Fair Observer
We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.
Will you support FO’s journalism?
We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.