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Djokovic, after US Open, says he’s working on the mental side of tennis

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Eight days after his brutal disqualification from the US Open for accidentally hitting a linesman with a ball, Novak Djokovic said he saw the incident as an opportunity to improve the mental side of his game and that he ‘he hoped to be a wiser player. Therefore.

I work mentally and emotionally as hard as I physically am, trying to be the best version of myself on the pitch, off the pitch, Djokovic said on Monday from Rome, where he will compete in the Italian Open. this week. I understand that I have explosions and that is the personality and the kind of player that I have always been.

He added: Obviously I’ve been through ups and downs in my career, managing to more or less control my emotions. But you’re alone there, it’s a lot of intensity, a lot of pressure, and you have to face it all.

Djokovic spoke at length to reporters on Monday for the first time since being dropped in the fourth round of the US Open. While behind in the first set against Pablo Carreo Busta, Djokovic hit a ball about 40 feet from the court to a back wall, where it hit a linesman in the throat. She collapsed and Djokovic tried to comfort her. After a long discussion with tournament officials, he was disqualified, overturning the men’s draw.

The rules are clear on this, Djokovic said. I accepted it and had to move on.

Until then, Djokovic hadn’t lost a game all season and was heavily favored to win the US Open, which would have been his 18th Grand Slam tournament title. Second seed Dominic Thiem defeated Alexander Zverev for the title on Sunday night in a thriller that ended in a tiebreaker in the fifth set.

Djokovic admitted his disqualification, while somewhat unlucky, was not completely out of the blue given his propensity to vent his anger on the pitch, which at times involved being reckless with the equipment.

At the 2016 French Open, he slipped his racket in anger and it slipped out of his hands, narrowly missing a linesman. He could have been abandoned, but he won the tournament, his only victory at the French Open.

Later in the season, he quibbled with a reporter during the ATP Finals after hitting a ball in the stands without hitting anyone. The reporter said it could have been dangerous for spectators.

It could have been, yes, Djokovic said at the time, bristling with reporters’ suggestion that the behavior could be part of a pattern. It could also have snowed at the O2 Arena, but it didn’t.

His challenge then seemed very different from his feeling on Monday, when he said he was truly sorry for causing the shock and drama for the linesman who was hit.

She didn’t deserve that in any way, he said. She obviously volunteers and does her job. She loves tennis and has been around, from what I understand, for several years.

He stopped before guaranteeing that something similar didn’t happen in future tournaments, but said he would certainly remember it and learn from it.

I don’t think I’ll have any major problems coming back to the tour and being able to perform well and hit the tennis ball of course, during the point, he said.

At the upcoming French Open, Djokovic will aim to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win each Grand Slam tournament twice. He said he was happy to have new goals to focus on right away, although he still sees 12-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal as the big favorite.

Rafa obviously decided to stay on clay and train, and that surely gives him more of an edge, Djokovic said of Nadal, the 2019 US Open champion who skipped a repeat attempt due to of the coronavirus pandemic.

Even if he didn’t train as long on clay, he would still be the No.1 favorite at Roland Garros or any clay tournament because he was Rafa, Djokovic added. Playing on clay is the ultimate challenge.

Nadal is among many players, including second-placed Simona Halep, who will return to a major competition after refusing to travel to the United States during the health crisis.

Obviously, in order to feel 100%, you need matches. But here I am, Nadal said on Monday. I arrived with a lot of time to try to get the best practices.

At the Italian Open, Nadal will play his first match against Carreo Busta, who after facing Djokovic reached the semi-final of the US Open.

It will be a good test, Nadal said. I am delighted to return to competition, without great expectations.

Halep is shown to be the seed in the women’s singles draw at Roland Garros because defending champion Ashleigh Barty, WTA No.1, has no plans to play.

Like Nadal, Halep said she had no regrets about choosing to skip the US Open.

Of course, I’m sad that I didn’t play, it’s to be expected, but I feel like my decision was great for the health issue and for feeling relaxed on the inside, Halep said.

2018 Roland Garros champion Halep won a WTA tournament in Prague on clay last month.

I have always been safe and happy on clay, and now I have had four or five months playing only on clay. I’m not used to this, Halep said. I feel comfortable and ready to play here. I love this tournament. I love Roland Garros, so I hope I can play my best and win matches.

Watching the disqualification of the US Open and Djokovics, Halep said, was a reminder to consider the safety of others on the pitch.

We really have to be careful because people are around us and we don’t have to react so badly during matches because it’s just a tennis match, she said. It wasn’t nice for anyone.

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