A petulant swipe at the ball after having his serve broken brought a sensational end to Novak Djokovic’s U.S. Open on Sunday after the planet favourite disqualified for striking a football official within the throat.
The dramatic moment came when the overwhelming title favourite reacted angrily to going 5-6 right down to Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta within the first set of their fourth-round encounter at an empty Ashe Stadium.
What would are an innocuous incident had the ball flown a foot either side of the office instead left her lying on the bottom, clutching her throat and screaming in pain.
There was no doubt that Djokovic hit her inadvertently, and he quickly rushed to apologise, it had been a transparent breach of slam rules forbidding the physical abuse of anyone within the tournament precincts.
Soeren Friemel, the referee from the Tournament came out in advance of a lengthy talk with U.S. three-time chairman Arbiterie Tourte and Andreas Egli, the slam supervisor. Free king. Free king.
Djokovic, who was making the purpose that he had not intended to hit the official, was overheard saying “she does not need to attend hospital for this” after 12 minutes of pleading his case, his fate sealed.
“I do not think that there was any chance of any opportunity or the other decision than defaulting Novak,” Friemel later told reporters.
“The facts were so clear then obvious … (the line judge) was hurt and Novak was angry, he hit the ball recklessly, angrily back.”
A tournament spokesman told Reuters the road judge seemed to be okay and was “not brought off-site”. Her identity is not known. Djokovic eventually walked over to greet with a stunned Carreno Busta and trudged off the court before leaving the grounds without attending a news conference.
The 33-year-old Serbian later posted an apology on Instagram.
“In this whole case, it left me depressed and hollow,” he said.. “I’m extremely sorry to possess caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong.
“I apologise to the (U.S. Open) and everybody associated with my behaviour.”
NEW slam CHAMPION
Extraordinary even during a year when the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc within the sporting world, the disqualification ended Djokovic’s 26-match streak in 2020 and what, at times, seemed like a charge towards his 18th slam title.
That would have brought him within one title of Rafa Nadal’s tally of 19 and two of Roger Federer’s record 20 major triumphs.
The USTA said Djokovic would lose all the ranking points earned from the event and fined $250,000 — his prize for reaching round four.
The consensus among former champions turned pundits, and his fellow players were that Djokovic had accidentally hit the road umpire but, while unfortunate, the choice to disqualify him had been correct.
Tim Henman, suspended in Wimbledon from the same event in 1995 for a similar incident, clarified “this is the correct decision.”
“He isn’t aiming for the road judge, but has hit the ball away and you’ve got to be liable for your actions.”
With defending champion Nadal and Federer absent this year and no other former winners of the main four tournaments left within the men’s draw, Flushing Meadows is now bound to welcome a replacement member into the slam champions club.
Djokovic’s humiliating exit continues what has been a turbulent few months for him off the court. He criticised for organising the Adria Tour exhibition event in June during which he and several other players were tested positive for COVID-19.
He then dropped a bombshell on the eve of the U.S. Open by announcing he had resigned as president of the ATP Player Council to front a replacement players’ association. [L4N2G408O]
“I got to return within and work on my disappointment and switch this all into a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and person,” he added in his Instagram statement.
World number 27 Carreno Busta moves on to a quarter-final against Canadian young gun Denis Shapovalov with both players knowing they need never had a far better chance of snaring a maiden slam title.
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