(Reuters) – Italian Open champion Novak Djokovic said getting back on court for a tournament so quickly after being disqualified at the U.S. Open for striking a line judge with a ball helped him move on from the incident.
The world number one came in for heavy criticism at Flushing Meadows earlier this month and the Serb said he spent several days processing what had happened.
He returned to tournament play in Rome last week and captured his 36th ATP Masters crown in Monday’s final by beating Argentine Diego Schwartzman 7-5 6-3.
“I did experience mentally some ups and downs in the first four-five days after that happened,” Djokovic told reporters.
“Obviously I was in shock… but I moved on, I’ve never had an issue in my life to move on regardless of how difficult it is.
“Obviously having a tournament a week after helped a lot because I really wanted to get on the court and get whatever trace of that out of the way.”
Djokovic, who has won 31 of his 32 matches this year, said he would have to raise his game further to challenge for the title at the French Open, which begins on Sunday.
“I don’t think I played my best tennis to be honest, I don’t want to sound arrogant here. I am very satisfied and pleased to win a title. I know I still have a couple of gears,” he added.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to raise that level for the French Open because that’s going to be necessary if I want to go deep in the tournament.”
Defending Roland Garros champion Rafa Nadal was stunned by Schwartzman in the Rome quarter-finals, but Djokovic expected the Spaniard to be firing on all cylinders in Paris.
“He’s the player who has the highest chance of being in the final … if it’s Roland Garros it’s Rafa you bet on,” he said.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)