Novak Djokovic has been disqualified from the US Open after hitting a line judge with the ball.
The top seed had just dropped his serve to trail opponent Pablo Carreno Busta 6-5 in the opening set of their fourth-round match on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
He hit a ball behind him in frustration and it struck a female line judge. After the ball was struck, it was immediately clear that she was hurt and the Serbian rushed over to check on her condition.
A lengthy discussion followed at the net between tournament officials and Djokovic, before he was sent from the court. The decision will send shockwaves through the sport.
He will face another fine for not doing his press conference. Soon after the incident, the 33-year-old was pictured getting into a car and leaving Flushing Meadows.
In accordance with the Grand Slam rulebook, following his actions of intentionally hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences, the US Open tournament referee defaulted Novak Djokovic from the 2020 US Open. Because he was defaulted, Djokovic will lose all ranking points earned at the US Open and will be fined the prize money won at the tournament in addition to any or all fines levied with respect to the offending incident.
USTA statement on default of Novak Djokovic
Djokovic had not lost this season, enjoying a 26-match winning run, and had secured his 17th Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open.
Djokovic is not the first player to have been defaulted for something similar, but for it to happen at a Grand Slam and as the tournament favourite is an extraordinary situation.
Canadian Denis Shapovalov was defaulted during a Davis Cup tie against Great Britain in 2017 after smashing a ball in anger which hit umpire Arnaud Gabas in the eye.
Tim Henman, meanwhile, was disqualified from Wimbledon 25 years ago for hitting a ball girl with a ball during a doubles match.
Speaking on Amazon Prime, Henman said: “It’s a massive shock. There’s no doubt that it’s the right decision. It’s amazing for me to talk about this because it happened to me at Wimbledon in 1995. It was that moment of frustration, hit the ball away when I wasn’t looking and I hit a ball girl in the ear.
“I was shocked, I was embarrassed and I was very disappointed.”
David Nalbandian kicked an advertising hoarding during the Queen’s final in 2012, injuring a line judge, and was defaulted.
Bad luck for Novak, says opponent Carreno Busta
Spanish opponent Carreno Busta said it was not the way he wanted to make it through to the quarter-finals.
Speaking during his press conference, the 20th seed said: “I didn’t watch the moment when he threw the ball. I was looking to my coach, celebrating the break. When I turn back again, the line umpire was on the floor.
“I’m very apprehensive with these kind of things, so I was a little bit in shock. I ask to the Colombian guys who was in the crowd if the ball hit the line umpire, and I was in shock. I never expected this moment playing against Novak, you know. So it was tough moment also to me.
“And then when they was talking on the net, I just try to be focused if the case that we have to continue playing.
“It was 10 minutes or 15 minutes. But it was a little bit cold, so I need to be ready in case, in the case that we have to continue. I just ask to him [the umpire], and then finally Novak give me the hand. That’s it.
“I think that it was bad luck. You cannot do this, but of course I think that Novak never, never wants to hit the line umpire.”
Unbelievable that @DjokerNole has been defaulted. This was the correct decision under the rules regardless of intent or not. Novak should have stayed for the press conference & apologise. We must take responsibility for our actions no matter how difficult the situation is.
Zverev in shock
Fifth seed Alexander Zverev, who eased into the last eight with a 6-2 6-2 6-1 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, said he was in a state of shock.
The German said: “He hit a tennis ball. It’s very unfortunate that he hit the line judge, and especially where it hit her. There is a rule in place for it. I think the supervisors and all of them are just doing their job. But very unlucky
“I don’t know what to say. I’m a little bit in shock right now.”
Unbelievable what just happened on the court at the @usopen – Novak Djokovic defaulted for inadvertently but stupidly hitting a lineswoman in the throat with a ball and the officials had no choice but to default. Wow…#sad
Glad the woman is ok- we must do better than that.
Maclagan: No choice but to default
Miles Maclagan, a former coach of Laura Robson and Andy Murray, said he was left “absolutely stunned” by Djokovic’s actions.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, he said: “It wasn’t intentional but the rules state that although it wasn’t intentional, he struck a ball pretty hard and hit a lineswoman in the throat so there was no choice but to default.
“It was probably made a little easier because of the empty stadium, I think it would have been harder to do it in front of 23,000 paying fans.
“Just when you couldn’t think this tournament could get any more bizarre – the clear favourite defaulted, absolutely stunned.
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