Radek Stepanek, the former Top 10 player who has been a part of the coaching team of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the past, says that Serbian tennis champion is 'very sad inside himself' and 'in pain' after his stunning disqualification from the US Open on Sunday after accidentally hitting a lines person with a ball he hit in anger during his fourth round match against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta.
Djokovic left the US Open grounds without talking to the media but did release a statement on social media in which he apologised for his actions shortly after. He posted a further update asking his fans be supportive and caring towards the lines judge as well.
Radek Stepanek says Novak Djokovic is very sad & in pain after US Open default
Stepanek, who was part of the coaching team of Djokovic for some months from the end of the 2017 season to the first few months of the 2018 season, spoke to CNN and described the emotional state of Djokovic.
"I know he is very sad inside himself and he is in pain. He is in pain because it was unintentional and, in that moment, the pain is bigger. And it's hard for him because we know how hungry he is to become the player with the most grand slams.
I believe he felt -- everyone felt -- this one should be for him, reachable. All these circumstances make it very sad for him and in the first moment, empty, because I believe he himself knew that it was wrong that she got hit."
The Czech player did admit that the criticism from the media over the past few months for several incidents has affected Djokovic, but he believes that the Serbian champion will bounce back from this latest setback with the help of his family.
"I think he's going to go back to his family and the closest ones to feel in the safe environment. Be with his loved ones. I think that one of his biggest strengths is his mental power." Novak Djokovic is scheduled to play the Italian Open Masters event next week in Rome and the French Open in Paris at the end of this month and Stepanek feels that Djokovic's quest for the all-time Grand Slam record in men's tennis will motivate him once again.
"I think the thing that gets him out of this will be getting back to work. It's going to be intense for quite some time with what happened, but I believe when he gets back on court and gets his eye on the possible trophy that he will focus on what he is doing and he will get strong again."