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Djokovic defaulted in US Open match

Novak Djokovic checks on the line judge after hitting her with a ball
Novak Djokovic checked on the line judge after hitting her with a ball at 6-5 down in the first set
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 31 Aug-13 Sept
Coverage: Selected live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sounds, the BBC Sport website and app.

Top seed Novak Djokovic has been disqualified from his US Open fourth-round match after accidentally hitting a ball at a line judge.

Djokovic showed his frustration after losing serve to trail 6-5 against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.

The Serbian world number one took a ball out of his pocket and hit it behind him, striking the female line judge in her throat.

After a lengthy discussion, he was defaulted by tournament officials.

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.”

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

Going into the match against 20th seed Carreno Busta, Djokovic had not lost a singles match in 2020.

The 33-year-old 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, in the race to finish with the most men’s major titles of all-time.

Djokovic appeared to plead his case to tournament referee Soeren Friemel and Grand Slam supervisor Andreas Egli during a long conversation at the net.

Eventually, however, he accepted his fate and shook hands with Carreno Busta, who looked shocked by what had happened as he waited for a decision in his chair.

Reaction

Great Britain Davis Cup captain Leon Smith on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra: “It’s a habit. He did it five minutes beforehand, with much more venom, and he was just lucky it hit the advertising board. It could have hit one of the ball kids.”

Martina Navratilova, 18-time Grand Slam singles champion: “Unbelievable what just happened on the court at the US Open – Novak Djokovic defaulted for inadvertently but stupidly hitting a lineswoman in the throat with a ball and the officials had no choice but to default. Wow…

“Glad the woman is OK – we must do better than that.”

BBC commentator and two-time US Open champion Tracy Austin: “Right call! Stunning to watch this unfold. Hope linesperson OK.”

‘An open and shut case’ – analysis

Russell Fuller, BBC tennis correspondent

If Novak Djokovic hadn’t have been defaulted in that situation, can you imagine the outrage? What sort of light would that have shone on tennis neutrality and the decisions that these officials make?

It was an open and shut case to me.

I don’t see how you could argue that was not a disqualification. It doesn’t matter how hard you hit the ball. I don’t think he has any defence at all.

More to follow.

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