World No 1 Novak Djokovic was sensationally disqualified from the US Open yesterday after he unintentionally struck a line official with a ball during his round-of-16 match. The world number one was 5-6 down in the first set to Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta when he hit a ball behind him, in the direction of the female official.
It struck her in the throat and she could be heard gasping. Djokovic rushed over to check that she was okay and after a few minutes she got up and walked off the court. Following around ten minutes of discussions with the tournament referee, the umpire declared that Carreno Busta had won by default.
"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," tournament officials said in an official release. They aded that Djokovic will lose all ranking points earned at the US Open and will be fined the prize money ( USD 250,000) won at the tournament in addition to any or all fines levied with respect to the offending incident.
Djokovic declared he was "extremely sorry" about the unfortunate incident, posting his apology on social media after leaving Flushing Meadows without attending the post-match press conference.
"As for the disqualification, I need to go back within and work on my disappointment and turn this all into a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and human being," he said.
Djokovic is one of only a handful of players to be defaulted from a Grand Slam tournament ever since John McEnroe was infamously booted out of the 1990 Australian Open. His exit leaves the men's draw wide open with both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer not taking part in this year's tournament as well.
This is the first time since 2004 that a Grand Slam quarterfinal round will not feature Djokovic, Federer or Nadal.