World No 1 and tournament favourite Novak Djokovic was made to default after hitting a line umpire in the throat during his round of 16 match against Pablo Carreno Busta at the US Open.
Djokovic, who had just lost serve to concede a 6-5 lead to his opponent, stuck a ball in anger that accidentally hit the linesperson in the throat.
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“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 USTA said in an official 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.”
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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 17-time champion was on a 26-0 winning streak ahead of the match for the season. But, in the one set contested, Djokovic was relentlessly challenged by a more aggressive Carreno Busta.
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With the Spaniard serving at 4-5, Djokovic built a 40-lead but Carreno Busta held steady and won the next five points. The World No 1 lost his serve after being 30-0 up in the next game. He hit a ball in anger back to the court, which struck the line umpire in the throat.
Here is the footage of Djokovic hitting the linesman #usopen pic.twitter.com/YnbaNo9XDe
— D (@darrenb1982) September 6, 2020
“This whole situation has left me really sad and empty. I checked on the lines person and the tournament told me thank God she is feeling ok,” Djokovic, who refused to talk to the press, said in an Instagram post.
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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.
“I apologize to the US Open 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.”
Swap me for jokers incident. ‘Accidentally hitting the ball kid in the throat’ how many years would I be banned for?
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) September 6, 2020
With Djokovic’s default, a new Grand Slam champion is guaranteed at the US Open. There were three former major champions in the men’s draw ahead of the Grand Slam – Djokovic, Marin Cilic and Andy Murray. Cilic and Murray had already exited in the previous rounds.
US Open Referee Soeren Friemel said: ‘Based on the facts that the ball was hit angrily, recklessly; that it went straight at the line umpire’s throat; that the line umpire was clearly hurt and in pain, the decision was made that Novak [Djokovic] had to be defaulted.
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His point was that he didn’t hit the line umpire intentionally… We all agree that he did not do it on purpose, but the facts are still that he hit the line umpire and that the line umpire was clearly hurt.