Djokovic’s on-court rage laid bare: Referee on what ‘angry’ tennis ace said to him

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Djokovic, 34, returns to the French Open this year, looking to win his 21st Grand Slam in Paris. The World Number One defeated the ‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal last year on his way to the Final at Roland-Garros. He will soon embark on his title defence at this year’s tournament, which gets underway today. Djokovic is in blistering form and looks set to light up Paris after he won the Italian Open earlier this month.

If he wins the French Open, the Serb will draw level with the record 21 Slams held by Nadal, who has won the French Open 13 times.

Djokovic is a polarising figure however and has a reputation for being involved in controversies on and off court.

One such moment came when he smashed a ball at a line judge at the US Open back in 2020.

The moment of rage saw him disqualified from the fourth-round match against Pablo Carreno Busta.

The tennis ace appeared to be unaware of where the line judge was standing when he hit the ball at her and he ran over to check she was OK.

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However, despite the player’s pleas, referee Soeren Friemel and supervisor Andreas Egli ended the match.

Friemel later revealed what Djokovic said to him, saying: “His point was that he didn’t hit the line umpire intentionally.

“He said yes, I was angry, I hit the ball, I hit the line umpire, the facts are very clear.

“But it wasn’t my intent, I didn’t do it on purpose, so I shouldn’t be defaulted for that.

“We all agreed that he didn’t do it on purpose but the facts are still that he hit the line umpire and that the line umpire was clearly hurt.”

He added: “Intent is part of the discussion but there are two factors, one is the action, and the result.

“And the action, why there was no intent, the result of hitting the line umpire and clearly being hurt is the essential factor in the decision-making process here.

“We wouldn’t even, I don’t think we would have had this long-ish discussion if he had done it on purpose, but here both factors are taken into consideration.”

Djokovic issued a heartfelt apology over the incident on his Instagram.

He wrote: “This whole situation has left me really sad and empty.

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“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. 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 apologise to the US Open tournament and everyone associated for my behaviour.”

He added: “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.”

His apology came after the USTA said he had been disqualified for “intentionally hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard”.

The star lost winnings he made from the tournament as part of his fine.

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