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U.S. Open ball incident won't change way I deal with emotions, says Djokovic

PARIS (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic said he will not let the ball incident that caused his U.S. Open disqualification affect the way he manages his emotions on court as he makes his Grand Slam return at Roland Garros.

Tennis - ATP Masters 1000 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - September 21, 2020 Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy after winning the final against Argentina's Diego Schwartzman Pool via REUTERS/Riccardo Antimiani

The Serbian, disqualified in New York after accidentally hitting a line judge with a ball, bounced back by winning the title at the Italian Open, where his temper got the better of him as he smashed a racket in his quarter-final match.

While he said he would be more careful and that the U.S. incident had left a scar, Djokovic added that he will not rein himself in when it comes to showing his emotions on court.

“Of course, it was a shock for me and a lot of people. But that’s life, that’s sport. These things can happen,” Djokovic, who is chasing an 18th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, told a news conference on Saturday.

“But I don’t think that this will have any significant negative impact on how I feel on the tennis court.

“I mean, I won the tournament in Rome just a week later after what happened in New York. I did not feel any kind of emotional disturbance or difficulty to actually be able to play or still express my emotions in whatever way.”

However, the world number one said he would not soon forget what happened in New York and that will affect his behaviour.

“Obviously I am going to be extra careful of hitting a tennis ball around the court,” added Djokovic.

“Tht’s something that is obviously staying in my mind after what happened in New York. It’s going to stay there for a long time. Of course, I will make sure I don’t make the same mistake twice.”

For the 33-year-old, who is a follower of meditation, getting over what happened in New York is an inner process.

“I try to keep my negative reactions on the court as few as possible. But I guess it happens as well. I’m not going to be down on myself because of that. I also try to kind of accept it and forgive myself for what happened and move on,” he said.

“I really want to be my best version as a player, as a human being on the court, and win a tennis match. Because of the care that I have for that, I sometimes express my emotions in a good way or maybe less good way.”

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris

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