Novak Djokovic defaulted from US Open for striking ball at line judge

Djokovic won his 17th Grand Slam singles title in Australia and was an overwhelming favourite to make it 18 in New York having not lost a match all season

Last Updated: 06/09/20 10:32pm

Novak Djokovic consoles the line judge after the incident

Novak Djokovic consoles the line judge after the incident

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

The top seed had just dropped his serve to trail 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 frustration and it struck a female line judge. After the ball was struck, it was immediately clear that the woman was hurt and the Serbian rushed over to check on her condition.

A lengthy discussion followed at the net between tournament officials and Djokovic, before he was sent from the court.

Djokovic had not lost this season, enjoying a 26-match winning run, and had secured his 17th Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open.

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.

USTA statement on default of Novak Djokovic

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 which 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.

David Nalbandian kicked an advertising hoarding during the Queen’s final in 2012, injuring a line judge, and was defaulted.

Zverev in shock

Fifth seed Alexander Zverev, who eased into the last eight with a 6-2 6-2 6-1 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, said he was in a state of shock.

The German said: “He hit a tennis ball. It’s very unfortunate that he hit the line judge, and especially where it hit her. There is a rule in place for it. I think the supervisors and all of them are just doing their job. But very unlucky
for Novak.

“I don’t know what to say. I’m a little bit in shock right now.”

Maclagan: No choice but to default

Miles Maclagan says the umpire had no choice but to default Djokovic from the US Open after striking the line judge with a ball

Miles Maclagan says the umpire had no choice but to default Djokovic from the US Open after striking the line judge with a ball

Miles Maclagan, a former coach of Laura Robson and Andy Murray, said he was left “absolutely stunned” by Djokovic’s actions.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, he said: “It wasn’t intentional but the rules state that although it wasn’t intentional, he struck a ball pretty hard and hit a lineswoman in the throat so there was no choice but to default.

“It was probably made a little easier because of the empty stadium, I think it would have been harder to do it in front of 23,000 paying fans.

“Just when you couldn’t think this tournament could get any more bizarre – the clear favourite defaulted, absolutely stunned.

“There was quite a long discussion with Djokovic and the referee we couldn’t hear and we wondered what was going on but in the end it was the right decision.”

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