Novak Djokovic was kicked out of the U.S. Open on Sunday, September 6, after he accidentally hit a lineswoman with a tennis ball.
The world’s no. 1. Men’s tennis player and the tournament’s top seed was disqualified during a fourth-round match against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.
The Serbian athlete appeared frustrated as he was down 5-6 in the first set after falling and appearing to injure his shoulder. He was walking to the sideline for a changeover when he took a ball out of his pocket and hit it behind him, unintentionally striking the lineswoman.
Djokovic looked alarmed and raised his hand as the ball hit the line judge in the throat and she dropped to the ground.
The 33-year-old walked towards the woman to check on her as she clutched her neck and remained on the ground.
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic was defaulted from his fourth-round match at the #USOpen after he accidentally hit a line judge with a tennis ball Sunday. pic.twitter.com/TTstxZB2Jw
— ESPN (@espn) September 6, 2020
Djokovic was then approached by the tournament referee Soeren Friemel and Grand Slam supervisor Andreas Egli on the court who had a long conversation with him about the incident. He appeared to be arguing his case during the more than five-minute-long talk but, according to Tennis.com, told the officials, “It’s tough for you, whatever call you make, I understand.”
The athlete, who was the favorite to win the competition, then walked off the court, shook his opponent’s hand and thanked the umpire before walking out.
“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,” the United States Tennis Association said in a statement. “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.”
Former tennis champion Martina Navratilova tweeted after the incident, writing on Sunday, “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.”
Djokovic later posted a statement 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. I’m not disclosing her name to respect her privacy.”
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“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,” he concluded. “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.”
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