Tennis sensation

Djokovic thrown out of US Open after ball hits judge

Novak Djokovic having the verdict spelled out

Top seed Novak Djokovic has been disqualified from the US Open after hitting a ball at a line judge.

The world number one showed his frustration after losing serve to trail 6-5 in the opening set of his fourth round match against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.

The Serbian took a ball out of his pocket and hit it behind him, striking the female line judge in her throat. It appeared to be a freak accident and Djokovic immediately rushed to help the injured woman.

He was defaulted by tournament officials after pleading for leniency with tournament referee Soeren Friemel and Grand Slam supervisor Andreas Egli.

Standing at the net in the near-empty stadium he could be heard saying: “She doesn’t have to go to the hospital for this. You’re going to choose a default in this situation? My career, Grand Slam, centre stage?”

Eventually, however, he accepted his fate and shook hands with the 20th seed. Djokovic left Flushing Meadows without giving a news conference.

Djokovic attends injured line judge

Djokovic was the strong favourite to win the men’s singles title at the tournament which is being played behind closed doors and is the first Grand Slam to take place since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

A United States Tennis Association statement said: “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.”

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Djokovic had not lost a singles match in 2020 and was aiming for an 18th Grand Slam triumph to move closer to rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who are not playing in New York.

Later, Djokovic issued a statement apologising for the incident.

‘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,” he said.

“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 apologise to the US Open tournament and everyone associated for my behaviour. 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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