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Novak Djokovic hitting a line judge with a ball has become one of the permanent images of an already bizarre season of tennis. The 18-time grand slam winner was disqualified from the US Open.
Seven-time grand slam champion John McEnroe, who was famous for his on-court outbursts, believes the incident will have an impact.
“The pressure just got to him I think,” McEnroe, himself disqualified from the 1990 Australian Open for misconduct, told ESPN. “… Now whether he likes it or not, he’s going to be the bad guy the rest of his career. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles it.”
“If he embraces that role, I think he could recover,” added McEnroe. “He’s got a lot of things going for him, but this is obviously a stain that he’s not going to be able to erase.”
Djokovic left Flushing Meadows without speaking to the media, but did write an apology on his Instagram account, saying he was “extremely sorry to have caused her such stress.”
McEnroe knows all too well how hard it is to shake a “bad boy” reputation in tennis.
“Just when you think something crazier couldn’t happen [in 2020], it does happen,” he said. “We talked before the event that the only way Novak could lose is if he beat himself. I didn’t anticipate in my wildest dreams that this would happen. So it’s terrible for everyone, it was a rookie mistake.”