Novak Djokovic will be the bad guy for the rest of his career after his US Open exit, John McEnroe has claimed. The Serb was disqualified from the competition after accidentally striking a line judge with a ball in anger. He had just lost his serve to Pablo Carreno Busta in their round of 16 showdown at Flushing Meadows.
Djokovic has spurned his golden chance at US Open glory, with the Serb exiting the competition on Sunday night.
The world No 1 went into the match as the favourite to make the next round but his temper ended up costing him dearly.
Djokovic, who has long denied that he needs to tone down his antics on the court, inadvertently hit a line judge with a ball after he lost serve to Busta.
And McEnroe has admitted the 33-year-old will be the ‘bad guy for the rest of his career’ after the incident – but feels he can recover if he ‘owns’ the mantle.
“The pressure just got to him. I think a lot has been going on off the court,” McEnroe told ESPN.
“It’s obviously affected him and whether he likes it or not, he’s going to be the bad guy the rest of his career.
“If he embraces that role, I think he could recover. He’s got a lot of things going for him, but this is a stain that he’s not going to be able to erase.”
Djokovic issued a grovelling apology on social media after the incident, admitted he was haunted by his actions.
“This whole situation has left me really sad and empty,” he said.
“I checked on the lines person and the tournament told me that thank God she is feeling ok.
“I‘m extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong. I’m not disclosing her name to respect her privacy.
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“As for the disqualification, I need to go back within and work on my disappointment and turn this all into a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and human being.
“I apologize to the @usopen tournament and everyone associated for my behavior (sic).
“I’m very grateful to my team and family for being my rock support, and my fans for always being there with me. Thank you and I’m so sorry.”
Djokovic didn’t turn up for the press conference after the match, potentially fearful of the grilling he’d receive from journalists present.
And former British No 1 Greg Rusedski has hit out at that decision, saying: “I’m a little bit disappointed.
“You have to remember this man is the world No 1.
“Yes it is a very difficult situation being defaulted at a major championship but he should have taken an hour or two hours to reflect on what happened, go into press, take responsibiliy and apologise for the situation.
“It is a difficult situation but when you are the No 1 player in the world you have to do the right thing.
“He is the guy trying to lead men’s tennis and a players association.
“I hope he makes the decision to come back to the press conference, apologise and explain the situation.”
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