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Novak Djokovic disqualified from US open after hitting line judge with ball
7 September 2020, 05:50 | Updated: 7 September 2020, 08:01
Novak Djokovic was disqualified from the US Open after hitting a line judge with a ball.
The top seed and 17-time grand slam champion had just dropped serve to trail Spanish 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 annoyance that hit a female line judge in the neck. A lengthy discussion followed between tournament officials and Djokovic as the Serbian argued his case to no avail.
Djokovic hit the line judge accidentally and the ball was not hit particularly hard, but it was clear immediately that the woman was hurt, with the Serbian rushing over to check on her condition.
HOLY CRAP. Djokovic defaulted after he inadvertently hits a ball and strikes a line judge in the neck. She had to leave. pic.twitter.com/BECdydrKFw— Mark Armstrong (@ArmstrongABC11) September 6, 2020
He pleaded his case at length before accepting his fate, collecting his rackets and walking off the court. He later issued an apology on Instagram, writing: "This whole situation has left me really sad and empty.
"I checked on the lines person and the tournament told me that thank God she is feeling ok.
"I‘m extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong."
View this post on Instagram
This whole situation has left me really sad and empty. I checked on the lines person and the tournament told me that thank God she is feeling ok. I‘m extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong. I’m not disclosing her name to respect her privacy. As for the disqualification, I need to go back within and work on my disappointment and turn this all into a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and human being. I apologize to the @usopen tournament and everyone associated for my behavior. I’m very grateful to my team and family for being my rock support, and my fans for always being there with me. Thank you and I’m so sorry. Cela ova situacija me čini zaista tužnim i praznim. Proverio sam kako se oseća linijski sudija, i prema informacijama koje sam dobio, oseća se dobro, hvala Bogu. Njeno ime ne mogu da otkrijem zbog očuvanja njene privatnosti. Jako mi je žao što sam joj naneo takav stres. Nije bilo namerno. Bilo je pogrešno. Želim da ovo neprijatno iskustvo, diskvalifikaciju sa turnira, pretvorim u važnu životnu lekciju, kako bih nastavio da rastem i razvijam se kao čovek, ali i teniser. Izvinjavam se organizatorima US Opena. Veoma sam zahvalan svom timu i porodici što mi pružaju snažnu podršku, kao i mojim navijačima jer su uvek uz mene. Hvala vam i žao mi je. Bio je ovo težak dan za sve.
The decision will send shockwaves through the sport.
Djokovic won his 17th slam singles title in Australia and was an overwhelming favourite to make it 18 in New York having not lost a match all season.
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 that 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, while David Nalbandian kicked an advertising hoarding during the Queen's final in 2012, injuring a line judge, and was defaulted.