"There was a lot of speculation about whether it was deserved. I accepted it, I moved on"
Tuesday 15 September 2020 08:57, UK
Novak Djokovic said he will never forget the incident which resulted in his shock US Open disqualification and is confident it will not affect his tennis going forward.
The world No 1 spoke at a press conference in Rome for the first time since he was dramatically ejected from the year's second Grand Slam for hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball struck in annoyance.
Djokovic said: "Of course it was a shock to finish the US Open the way things finished for me. Of course it could have happened earlier in my career, it could have happened to many players.
"It was just unfortunate it did hit the line umpire in an unfortunate place. There was a lot of speculation about whether it was deserved. I accepted it, I moved on."
Line judge Laura Clark collapsed to the ground and could be heard gasping for breath.
Djokovic continued: "I felt really sorry to cause the shock and drama to her. I felt very good about myself, my game. It was totally unexpected and very unintended but, when you hit the ball like that, you have a chance to hit somebody that is on the court.
"I accepted it and I had to move on. Of course I didn't forget about it, I don't think I'll ever forget about it."
I don't think I'll have any major issues coming back to the tour and being able to perform well.
The upside for Djokovic was it gave him more time to prepare on clay for this week's Internazionali BNL d'Italia and the French Open starting on September 27.
Djokovic said: "I don't think I'll have any major issues coming back to the tour and being able to perform well. I have my first chance here in Rome.
"It's great I think I have a tournament a week or 10 days after it happened because I feel the earlier I get back in competition mode the faster I'll overcome the memory and re-programme it. I'm hoping for the best.
"I spent some time with my family and I looked at my shoulder that I hurt a little bit when I fell down. It's OK for now so I'm going to be playing Rome and hopefully getting far here."
Rafael Nadal played down expectations for his return to the match court, saying: "It's obvious that to feel you're 100 per cent that you need matches. But here I am. I arrived with plenty of time to try to have the right practices.
"I'm excited about going back to the competition without big expectation. Go on court, feel myself competitive, and then I will see how I feel and what kind of goals I can look for."