Novak Djokovic was kicked out of the U.S. Open for accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a tennis ball after dropping a game in his fourth-round match Sunday, a stunning end to his 29-match winning streak and bid for an 18th Grand Slam title.
As he walked to the Arthur Ashe Stadium sideline for a changeover, trailing Pablo Carreño Busta 6-5 in the first set, Djokovic — who was seeded and ranked No. 1 and an overwhelming favorite for the championship — angrily smacked a ball behind him. The ball flew right at the line judge, who dropped to her knees at the back of the court and reached for her neck.
“This whole situation has left me really sad and empty” Djokovic wrote on his Instagram page. He continued, “I checked on the lines person and the tournament told me that thank God she is feeling OK.
“I’m extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong. I’m not disclosing her name to respect her privacy. 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.
I apologise to the @usopen tournament and everyone associated for my behavior. I’m very grateful to my team and family for being my rock support, and my fans for always being there with me. Thank you and I’m sorry.”
The USTA also released a statement which reads “In accordance with the Grand Slam rule book, 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 fined levied with respect to the offending incident.”
Novak Djokovic becomes the first tennis player to be defaulted in a Grand Slam since Tiger Tim Henman in 1995.