New York — Novak Djokovic inadvertently hit a linesperson in the throat after he was broken in the first set of his fourth-round match with Pablo Carreno Busta.
Novak Djokovic strikes umpire with ball and is defaulted from US Open/ credit Getty
“Players have been defaulted for less,” said ESPN commentator Darren Cahill, as Novak Djokovic’s fourth-round match with Pablo Carreno Busta came to a stunning halt.
But that didn’t matter, and the most bizarre US Open ever now includes one of the most bizarre happenings in tennis history: the world No. 1, 26-0 heading into the hard-court major, was defaulted after a ball he struck towards the backboard hit a linesperson in the throat.
The linesperson stayed on the ground for several minutes, as the ball was hit firmly though certainly without malice or intent:
An extensive discussion between Djokovic, the chair umpire and other tournament officials followed, though from the onset the decision appeared a fait accompli.
“It’s tough for you, whatever call you make, I understand,” Djokovic told officials, knowing that tennis’ rules are fairly inflexible in such situations.
Novak did not take part in a post-match press conference and left the US Open grounds, afternoon got off to an ominous start when he failed to convert three set points on Carreno Busta’s serve at 5-4.
After Novak took an awkward fall and appeared to injure his shoulder. After receiving a medical timeout, Djokovic was immediately broken at 15. The incident occurred with a clearly frustrated trailing 5-6.
In a statement from the USTA, the default means that Djokovic will also not receive all ranking points and prize money he would have earned from his performance at the US 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.”