World no. 2 Simona Halep is back in action this week after skipping Cincinnati and the US Open. The Romanian chases Rome's maiden title on beloved clay, hoping to continue where she left in Prague in August and add another trophy to her tally.
Halep is through to the third round, beating Jasmine Paolini in straight sets to set the clash against Dayana Yastremska. Spending a previous couple of weeks at home in Romania and training, Simona couldn't afford to stay awake and watch the US Open matches, catching the opening set of the women's final and skipping the entire men's title clash.
Still, like the whole world, Halep had heard about Novak Djokovic's incident against Pablo Carreno Busta, when he got defaulted for the first time in a career. Simona said it wasn't the right move from the world's leading player, as they all have to remember there are other people on the court with them.
For Halep, it was just another tennis match, and not a reason to lose temper. Novak Djokovic has been the player to beat in 2020 before that fourth-round clash in New York, winning all 26 encounters and lifting trophies at the ATP Cup, the Australian Open, Dubai and Cincinnati, seeking the 18th Major title at the US Open.
After passing the opening three rounds, Novak had to leave the court earlier than expecting versus Pablo Carreno Busta, experiencing his first career default! Facing the Spaniard on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Novak wasted three set points on the return at 5-4, lost temper and suffered a break in the next game to push the opponent 6-5 in front.
Frustrated with the outcome and a shoulder injury due to a nasty fall, Novak hit the lineswoman with the ball, causing her to fall and fight for air under the mask.
Simona Halep shared thoughts about Novak Djokovic's default.
Even though there were no intentions from world no.
1, the officials had to default him after a lengthy conversation, leaving the door open for all the quarter-finalists. Novak was rock-solid in the opening nine games, delivering one good hold after another and creating a break opportunity at 4-3.
Carreno Busta saved it to remain in touch, facing an even more challenging task behind the initial shot at 4-5. Djokovic had three set points up for grabs, losing the next five points and throwing the ball in anger towards a banner, in the first big moment for the entire story.
The momentum had switched to the Spaniard's side, as Pablo forged a 30-0 lead in the 11th game before Djokovic took a medical timeout for the left should injury following that fall. Carreno Busta broke at 15 to move 6-5 in front, just a couple of moments before Novak hit that ball that had cost him a chance of fighting for the 18th Major crown, knocking down the lineswoman and leaving the court after a couple of minutes spent in a conversation with the officials.
"I was, like 'whoa' when I heard what happened to Novak Djokovic. We have to be careful because people are around us on the court. We don't have to react that bad during the matches; it's just a tennis match after all. But, yeah, it wasn't pleasant for anybody," Simona Halep said.