Despite controversy, the US Open went ahead this summer albeit with empty stadiums making for eerily quiet matches. But what has transpired from recent days will have the 2020 tournament remembered not only for the pandemic, but for the involvement of No. 1 player, Novak Djokovic. Yesterday it was confirmed that the Serbian athlete was disqualified from the tournament and while Djokovic left quietly, his fans raised hell on social media.
During the Round of 16 match against world No. 20 Pablo Carreño Busta, Djokovic made headlines after he angrily hit a ball after losing a tight game, which consequently flew and hit a lines judge in the throat. Broadcast footage shows the woman fall to the ground, clutching her throat in clear distress. Djokovic was quick to her aid seemingly apologising for his actions. The unsportsman-like conduct had him disqualified from the tournament immediately and fined $10,000 USD (or approximately $13,740 AUD). He also forfeited his winnings from the tournament thus far of $250,000 USD (or $343,000 AUD).
Djokovic dodged reporters but later posted to Instagram that he was “extremely sorry to have caused her such distress” but was not revealing the woman’s name “to respect her privacy”. A Serbian tabloid released her Instagram handle however, and unleashed angry fans upon her page.
“I hope you rot in hell for this,” one user commented. “Hell hath no fury like Djokovic’s fans scorned. But no matter, you can be assured that one day karma will come for you. You were the reason the US Open disqualified the best tennis player. Novak, I hope you realise she was faking the injury all along.”
On a post dedicated to her late son Josh, who died aged 25 in a bicycle accident in 2008, a user had written, “Don’t worry you’ll join him soon.”
The woman, named Laura Clark, has since deleted her Instagram account.
While celebrities and athletes have the best intentions at heart, it is unfortunately impossible to control fans who turn into keyboard warriors at any sign of wrong doing against them. It is internet culture which is toxic and revolting, and causes a string of mental health issue down the track.