Rafa Nadal has admitted World No.1 Novak Djokovic should have been defaulted at the US Open after he let go of his ‘self-control’, which cost him a run at his 18th Grand Slam.
Nadal, who sat out the US Open due to concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic, is set to return against the in-form Pablo Carreno Busta in Italy this week.
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But the Spaniard addressed the talk of the tennis world when asked about his thoughts on Djokovic’s default at the US Open.
The incident eight days ago marked a stunning end to Djokovic's 29-match winning streak and his bid for an 18th grand slam title.
Nadal agreed all tennis players are aware of the rules and if you lose ‘self-control’ a default can be the consequence.
"The consequences have been always the same. Nothing new on that," Nadal said at a press conference.
"Novak was unlucky. [But] The rules say clearly that's a default. Sorry for him. He had an opportunity there. But in some way you should not be doing this.
"It's very unfortunate, very unlucky situation. But it's important to have the right self-control on the court, because if not, you can be unlucky."
Nadal has not played competitive tennis on the ATP Tour in more than six months and said he hopes he can be competitive with his compatriot.
"I arrived in plenty of time to try and have the right practices," Nadal added. "You need matches to feel 100 per cent… I'm excited about going back to competition, without big expectations,” Nadal said.
"I know I have a tough first [match] against Pablo. He's playing great. So let's see, it's going to be a good test.”
Nadal has been filmed practicing with Grigor Dimitrov and Gael Monfils on clay in the last week.
Djokovic eyes return after US Open default
The disqualification came during world No.1 Djokovic's fourth-round match against Pablo Carreno Busta.
Djokovic - the top seed and an overwhelming favourite for the championship - struck the ball in annoyance and it struck the line judge, who collapsed to the ground and could be heard gasping for breath when the incident occurred.
While the incident was the talk of the sports world, Djokovic is confident he can bounce back.
"Of course I did not forget about it. I don't think I'll ever forget about it, because it's one of those things that stays in your memory for the rest of your life.
"But I don't think I'll have any major issues coming back to the tour and being able to perform well and hit the tennis ball."
Djokovic also had some kind words for the finalists in the US Open final, winner Dominic Thiem and runner-up Alexander Zverev following a rollercoaster match.
This is what sport is all about. Respect, appreciation and friendship. Thank you 🙏🏼 Domi and Sasha for standing strong for your character values and seeing always what matters the most - love & respect for each other. Congratulations to both of you. @ThiemDomi @AlexZverev #USOpen pic.twitter.com/BrqUr06CS5— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) September 14, 2020
Djokovic will return in Rome where he has an opening-round bye before a clash with Italian wild-card entry Salvatore Caruso or a qualifier.
The tournament at the Foro Italico was rescheduled from May because of the coronavirus pandemic and will be played without fans in attendance.
Nine-time Rome champion Nadal is on the opposite side of the draw from Djokovic, marking the Spaniard's return to tennis after a seven-month break.