Novak Djokovic has reacted to his disqualification from the US Open on Sunday, after accidentally striking a female lines judge with a ball in frustration during his last-16 match against Spain’s 20th seed Pablo Carreno Busta.
Djokovic who is the current world number one apologised for hitting the ball in disgust after losing his serve to go 6-5 down in the first set to Busta.
The Serb appeared to be looking the other way when he pulled the ball from his pocket and smacked it in the direction of the official, hitting her in the throat.
The official cried out and began gasping for air as she collapsed to the ground.
Djokovic rushed over to check on her, placing his hand on her back as she struggled to breathe. After a few minutes she got up and walked off the court looking dazed.
Around ten minutes of discussions then ensued between Djokovic and the tournament referee Soeren Friemel, during which he pleaded his case.
The umpire then declared that Carreno Busta had won by default. Djokovic shook hands with his opponent before leaving the court without appearing to shake the umpire’s hand
He went then directly to his car and left the Flushing Meadows site in New York without speaking to reporters.
Djokovic, 33, later posted an apology on Instagram.
“This whole situation has left me really sad and empty,” he wrote, adding that “thank God” the woman was okay.
“I’m extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong,” Djokovic said.
He also apologised to tournament organisers for his behavior but did not say whether he thought they were right to default him.
The United States Tennis Association said Djokovic had been defaulted under the Grand Slam rules for “intentionally hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences.”
The body added that he would lose all ranking points and prize money from the tournament.
Referee Friemel said Djokovic told him he should not be defaulted because it was unintentional.
Friemel said he agreed there was no intent but that it was a clear-cut case of Djokovic hitting the ball “angrily and recklessly.”
“She was clearly hurt and in pain. There was no other option,” he told reporters.
The Serbian star is one of only a handful of players to be disqualified from a men’s singles tournament at a Grand Slam since John McEnroe was infamously tossed from the Australian Open in 1990.
Djokovic had been chasing an 18th Grand Slam title at the Billie Jean King US National Tennis Centre.
He was hoping to close the gap on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both absent from the tournament, in the race for the all-time men’s Slam singles title record.
Djokovic is on 17, with Nadal on 19 and Federer on 20.Copyright © 2020 Completesports.com All rights reserved. The information contained in Completesports.com may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of Completesports.com.