‘Djokovic had saved 2020 US Open by entering it’

Former Yugoslavia coach Radmilo Armenulic says US Open could not wait to expel Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic will compete at the Tokyo Olympics

Former coach of the Yugoslavia Davis Cup team Radmilo Armenulic has said that Novak Djokovic had saved this year’s US Open by entering it when a lot of star players like Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka chose to skip it during the pandemic.

But the World No 1 exited the tournament on Sunday as he was defaulted in the fourth round, against Pablo Carreno Busta, for hitting a lines woman in the throat with a ball, albeit accidentally.

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“To be honest, I was hoping for more lenient punishment because Djokovic saved this year’s US Open by entering the tournament amid the coronavirus pandemic,” the 80-year-old from Serbia, told news agency Reuters.

“Nadal pulled out and (Roger) Federer is recovering from knee surgery so they really needed him there. But it’s as if they couldn’t wait to expel him.

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“Then again, he gave them cause with a reckless reaction. Very unfortunate, but he will recover from this and move on because he is mentally strong.”

Djokovic former coach and six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker, in a column for Daily Mail, has said that he feared something like this would happen to the Serb since he is prone to emotional outbursts on the court.

Boris Becker (right) and Novak Djokovic

In 2016, while playing against Tomas Berdych at the French, Djokovic flung a racquet in frustration that just missed a lines judge. Later that year, at the ATP World Tour Finals, Djokovic hit a ball in the stands but fortunately it did not strike anyone.

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“When I was working in his coaching team, I was in the player box during that incident with the racket-throwing at the 2016 French Open when, accidentally, he nearly connected with a line judge,” wrote Becker.

“I said to him you can scream as much as you like, break your racket, but don’t throw things or hit the ball away. I was worried something like this might happen.

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“I also wonder if it might have been a mistake not having his long-time main coach Marian Vajda among the three people he was allowed with him in New York under the current restrictions. He is Novak’s go-to guy, someone who is very calm and has a sort of father figure influence — but he wasn’t there.”

Becker also said that it does annoy Djokovic that despite all his achievements he is not as popular as Federer or Nadal, who make up the Big 3.

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“He is a people person and wants to be appreciated like that,” said Becker, who was Djokovic’s coach from 2013 to 2016.

“He is playing in the era of two tennis gods in Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and is a bit of a gate-crasher. I think it does bother him that he is not as generally popular as they are.”