Novak Djokovic Defaulted From US Open After Hitting Line Judge with a Tennis Ball, USTA Issues Statement, Djokovic Apologizes on Social Media
(September 6, 2020) NEW YORK – No. 1 Novak Djokovic was defaulted from his fourth-round match at the US Open after he accidentally hit a line judge with a tennis ball on Sunday afternoon. He had just lost a game to his opponent Pablo Carreno Busta when he hit a ball up against the back wall and it apparently hit the line. Carreno Busta advances to the quarterfinals of the US Open leading 6-5.
The Serbian’s bid for a fourth US Open title and 18th major is over in New York. His perfect 26-0 start has ended,
US Open tournament referee Soeren Friemel discussed the situation with Djokovic. Djokovic then walked over to shake hands with Carreno Busta and Chair umpire Aurelie Tourte then announced the default.
The USTA released the following statement:
USTA Statement on Default of Novak Djokovic
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.
Carreno Busta was asked about the incident in his news conference: “Well, I didn’t watch the moment when he threw the ball, no? I was looking to my coach, celebrating the break. When I turn back again, the line umpire was on the floor.
“I’m very apprehensive with these kind of things, so I was a little bit in shock, no? I ask to the Colombian guys who was in the crowd if the ball hit the line umpire, and I was in shock.
“I never expected this moment playing against Novak, you know. So it was tough moment also to me.
“And then when they was talking on the net, I just try to be focused if the case that we have to continue playing. In one moment I ask to the referee, What’s happen? Because I didn’t know if — it was so long, to me, no, this moment.
“So I don’t know. It was 10 minutes or 15 minutes. But it was a little bit cold, so I need to be ready in case, in the case that we have to continue.
“I just ask to him, and then finally Novak give me the hand. That’s it.”
“Of course I think this was not intentional. I don’t think that any one of us, of the players, do this kind of thing intentional, you know. It’s just the moment. It’s just I broke him the serve, and, you know, he throw the ball.
“I think that it was bad luck, no? You cannot do this, but of course I think that Novak never, never wants to hit the line umpire.”
“Well, the rules are the rules. These kind of things never likes. The referee and the supervisor do the right thing, but is not easy to do it, no?”
Djokovic left the tournament site after the default and did not do press, for which he’ll be fined.
From the USTA: “Djokovic has departed the site and will not be in press this evening.”
— Tennis Panorama News (@TennisNewsTPN) September 6, 2020
Sunday evening Djokovic issued an apology on social media:
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… https://t.co/UL4hWEirWL
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) September 6, 2020
Novak Djokovic’s statement on Instagram pic.twitter.com/2Sd7SKtU7K
— Nikhila (@kokudum) September 6, 2020
“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.
— ESPN (@espn) September 6, 2020
In on court action No. 5 seed Alexander Zverev had no problems reaching the quarterfinal dismissing Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.
Asked about the Djokovic default and the rest of the tournament, the German said: “There’s going to be a new Grand Slam champion. That’s all I know right now. There’s no past Grand Slam champions left in the draw. It’s going to be one of the young guys, I think, if you count Dominic Thiem as a young guy, as well. He obviously has a chance to win, as well.
“Now it gets interesting. Now I think is the time where it gets really interesting. Yeah. I know who is where in the draw. I know who I can play. I know who the rest of the guys can play. Yeah. We’ll see where we go from here.”
No. 27 seed Borna Coric is in his first major quarterfinal with a win over Jordan Thompson 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 on Sunday night. The Croatian did not have to play a marathon as he did on Friday when he beat Stefanos Tsitisipas in five sets in saving four match points.
Coric said that he feels “great” about reaching the quarters of a major for the first time. “It’s a very big relief for me. I wanted this for a very long time. I couldn’t make that step in the last two times. I felt at the Australian Open in 2019, in the fourth round I had maybe small chance.”
Coric will face Zeverev in the final eight.
Coric talked about his upcoming match with Zverev: “He’s one of the top players in the world for the last three or four years. His game is very, very solid. He doesn’t have any weak points.
“He’s serving huge at this tournament. I saw that. I actually watched almost all of his matches because twice he was playing before me, so I was watching it.
“He’s playing I think some of the best tennis of his life. Yeah, it’s going to be very interesting match. We played four or five times. It was always very big battle. Last time when we played, I think he had some problem with his foot or with his hamstring, so I wouldn’t count that as my win.
“You know, the key is I need to see with my coach what is going to be my tactics.”
Coric was also asked about the Djokovic default. He responded:
“I actually haven’t seen what happened exactly because I was treating my shoulder. Then my coach came into the room and said what happened. I went out in my suite just to see what happened.
“Obviously that’s unlucky. It’s very, very unlucky. If it just went five centimeters on the left, it wouldn’t happen anything. I feel sorry for him. At the same time, you know, that’s the rules. I think he needed to be defaulted. There is not much else to say.”
Denis Shapovalov became the first Canadian man to reach the elite eight of the US Open in the Open era by beating No. 7 seed David Goffin 6-7(0), 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. It will be his first major quarterfinal of his career. “Honestly, it’s a really proud moment, you just gave me goosebumps,” said the Canadian.
“Definitely super exciting to be in my first quarterfinals of a Grand Slam. Obviously I had the run I think it was three, four years ago making fourth round. To kind of get over that hump, make my first quarters, it’s a huge boost for me to see that my hard work’s paying off.”
Asked about the Djokovic incident in his on court interview, Shapovalov said: “I’ve been trough that myself. I feel awful for Djokovic. It was just a fluke, terrible for everybody. Super unfortunate.” At a Davis Cup tie when he was 17 in 2017, the young Canadian hit a ball in anger and it mistakenly hit a chair umpire in the eye, He was defaulted from his match and the tie was lost.
“I’ve been in that situation so I know exactly how Novak is feeling, “Shapovalov said. “Of course, he had no intentions to go after the lines woman. Thankfully she’s okay. It could have ended up very, very bad. Luckily everybody is okay. Like I said, it’s just super unfortunate for everybody.
“Hopefully Novak can shake it off and move on. I mean, of course, he needs to grow and learn from this. But it’s super, super unlucky as well. The ball could have went anywhere. It’s just super unfortunate.”