So Novak Djokovic is defaulted out of the US Open. Angry at not being able to convert first set points against Pablo Carreno Busta. Sore from falling on his shoulder. Frustrated at losing his serve. Culminating in hitting a ball towards the back of the court, which hit a line-judge in the throat.
It’s been a tricky summer for Novak. Heavily criticised for his ill-fated tournament in the Balkans. Then his leadership of the breakaway ATP players group wasn’t well received either.
It’s as if he has processed so much external negativity, it manifested itself in his Flushing Meadow frustration. A moment when things just got out of control, that happens when you have drifted away from your own self-control and inner harmony.
Tennis is one of the few sports that seems to lend itself to outbursts. As if frustration is seen to be an acceptable element of the game. Because of the unique challenges the game throws at you. All that tension building up inside that you need to expel. The disappointments of a ball hitting the net, or going long. Small moments aggregating into one big one. Your internal pressures heating up to boiling point.
Novak has promised to go away and look at his internal triggers and reactions. Maybe come back a calmer player. But he has to be careful not to diminish his enormous will and fighting spirit that make him such a great champion. Better to refine his ‘Disappointment Process’.
Find safe ways of channelling things externally. Give himself more time before he reacts. Let things go with less heat.
But maybe it’s more than that. In trying to find his independent voice this summer, maybe Novak has inadvertently lost some of the ‘Champions Glow’. The magic dust that has helped him find ways to win titles in the presence of adversity. Perhaps it’s time to stay out of the headlines and all that seems to come with that. Let others run tournaments and lead break-away groups.
In this time of greatness, taking care of the greatness is the duty of the champion. Being disqualified at the US Open will cause Novak huge distress. Which in itself can be the motivation and inspiration to re-double his efforts to strive towards more Gran Slams. Perhaps it was the trigger he needed to be even better than he was before!