DOH!-Kovic: Novak Djokovic disqualified from US Open after striking line judge with a tennis ball

NEW YORK: #1 seed Novak Djokovic was disqualified from his fourth-round match at the US Open after accidentally striking a line judge in anger with a tennis ball.

Djokovic was heavily favored to win his 17th Grand Slam title. He had ample opportunity to do so, as his two chief main rivals–Raphael Nadal and Roger Federer–were noticeably absent from this year’s tournament. With the former missing the tournament over concerns about travel during the pandemic, and the latter recovering from two knee surgeries.

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Trailing Pablo Carreno Busta 6-5 in the first set, Djokovic angrily slammed the ball behind him with his tennis racket, unwittingly hitting the female line judge in the neck. She fell to the ground at the back of the court, grabbing her neck. Djokovic would later walk over to her and check on her status.

After several minutes of deliberating between chair umpire Aurelie Tourte, tournament referee Soeren Friemel, and Grand Slam supervisor Andreas Egli, Tourte declared that Djokovic had defaulted–thus ejecting him from the 2020 US Open Tennis Championship.

“Novak was angry. He hit the ball recklessly, angrily back. And taking everything into consideration, there was no discretion involved,” Friemel said. “Defaulting a player at a Grand Slam is a very important, very tough decision. And for that reason, it doesn’t matter if it’s on Ashe, if it’s No. 1 or any other player on any other court. You need to get it right.”

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In a lengthy Instagram post, Djokovic apologized to the line judge, saying: “I am extremely sorry to have caused her such stress.”

It was an unfortunate end to an unbelievable hot-streak Djokovic was on: going 26-0 this season, dating back to 2019–when he won his last three matches of the year. He’s won 5 of the last 7 Grand Slam titles.

His loss is his rivals’ gain: with Djokovic gone, there is now no man in the field who has previously won a major trophy. Whoever wins this year will be the first first-time major trophy winner since Marin Cilic won the US Open in 2014.

Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic have been a dominant force in tennis: each of the past 13 Grand Slam winners has been one of the aforementioned “Big Three.” Since the beginning of 2005, the Big Three have won 52 of the 61 majors. The last major when no member of the Big Three advanced to the semifinals? The 2004 French Open.

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In a year as strange as 2020, a bizarre end to a dominant run by a Tennis legend only seems fitting. Who knows? They have not even reached the semifinals yet. 2020 may yet still have surprises in the world of tennis. Stay tuned…

Source: ESPN

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