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Djokovic defaulted from US Open after hitting linesjudge with ball

hannahwilks in US Open 06 Sep 2020
Novak Djokovic apologises to the lineswoman he struck with a ball (PA Images)

Novak Djokovic has been defaulted from the US Open after striking a ball which hit a linesjudge.

World no. 1 Novak Djokovic was trailing 5-6 in the first set of his fourth-round match with Pablo Carreno Busta, and had just dropped serve to the Spanish player.

In irritation, Djokovic took a ball out of his pocket and struck it behind him without looking.

The ball struck a linesjudge in the throat. She fell to the ground, her panicked gasps clearly audible.

Djokovic quickly crossed to the lineswoman to see if she was all right, and after a few minutes on the ground, she stood up and left the court.

The world no. 1 had a lengthy discussion with officials at the net, and was heard pleading his case, arguing that the lineswoman had not been hurt that badly.

But it was to no avail – Djokovic was defaulted and left the court.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion did not speak to the media, opting instead to leave the US Open complex in Flushing Meadows immediately.

Djokovic had previously struck a ball in anger earlier in the set, but did not hit anybody.

The USTA issued a statement, reading:

‘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 Grand Slam rules read:

‘Players shall not at any time physically abuse any official, opponent, spectator or other person within the precincts of the tournament site.

‘The referee, in consultation with the Grand Slam chief of supervisors may declare a default for either a single violation of this code.’

Djokovic will forfeit all ranking points and prize money earned at the US Open, but that is not likely to bother him; in accordance with the ATP Tour’s revised ranking system, he will retain his fourth-round points from the 2019 US Open until the 2021 tournament.

The sting is far more likely to reside in the fact that his own actions have denied him the chance to claim a fourth US Open title at a tournament at which he was the overwhelming favourite.

With Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer not playing, and Andy Murray and Marin Cilic both knocked out before the fourth round, Djokovic was the only Grand Slam champion remaining in the men’s draw.

Now there will be a new men’s Grand Slam champion among the players left in the draw.

Alexander Zverev had reached the quarterfinals earlier that day. The 2019 runner-up Daniil Medvedev and Australian Open finalist Dominic Thiem, who are in the other half of the draw, will also be among the favourites.