Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 tennis player in the world and heavy favorite to win the U.S. Open, was disqualified from the tournament on Sunday (September 06, 2020) after he inadvertently struck a line judge with a tennis ball in an act of frustration.
While heading to the bench for a changeover, Djokovic struck a ball behind him in frustration after losing a game, hitting a line judge who fell to her knees but was not injured.
After discussion between officials, Djokovic was disqualified, sending his match opponent Carreno Busta to the quarterfinals.
As the story developed, his expulsion from the U.S. Open sparked debate from ESPN’s commentators for hours.
The United States Tennis Association issued a statement on the incident, explaining that Djokovic’s actions fall within the rules of disqualification.
“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 U.S. Open tournament referee default Djokovic from the 2020 U.S. Open,” the statement read.
“Because he was defaulted, Djokovic will lose all ranking points he earned at the U.S. Open and will be fined the prize money he won at the tournament in addition to any or all fines levied with respect to the offending incident.”
Djokovic took to social media to share his response:
This whole situation has left me really sad and empty. 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 apologize 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 so sorry.