Novak Djokovic has been disqualified from the US Open in dramatic scenes.
Djokovic was defaulted from the tournament for striking a lineswoman in the throat when recklessly hitting a ball towards the back of the court.
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic was defaulted from his fourth-round match at the #USOpen after he accidentally hit a line judge with a tennis ball Sunday. pic.twitter.com/TTstxZB2Jw
— ESPN (@espn) September 6, 2020
Djokovic has been under fire from all angles in recent times after he hosted a tournament in the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic which saw countless people involved catch the virus, including Djokovic himself.
John McEnroe took aim at Djokovic saying this may impact his legacy forever.
"Now whether he likes it or not, he's going to be the bad guy the rest of his career," McEnroe said on ESPN.
"It'll be interesting to see how he handles it.
"He's got a lot of things going for him but this is obviously a stain that he's not going to be able to erase, whether he likes it or not.
"I'm just amazed, amazed that he did something as bone-headed as that in a situation where he was the overwhelming favourite."
Djokovic released a statement via his Instagram after choosing not to attend the post-match press conference.
View this post on Instagram
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. Cela ova situacija me čini zaista tužnim i praznim. Proverio sam kako se oseća linijski sudija, i prema informacijama koje sam dobio, oseća se dobro, hvala Bogu. Njeno ime ne mogu da otkrijem zbog očuvanja njene privatnosti. Jako mi je žao što sam joj naneo takav stres. Nije bilo namerno. Bilo je pogrešno. Želim da ovo neprijatno iskustvo, diskvalifikaciju sa turnira, pretvorim u važnu životnu lekciju, kako bih nastavio da rastem i razvijam se kao čovek, ali i teniser. Izvinjavam se organizatorima US Opena. Veoma sam zahvalan svom timu i porodici što mi pružaju snažnu podršku, kao i mojim navijačima jer su uvek uz mene. Hvala vam i žao mi je. Bio je ovo težak dan za sve.
Djokivic wasn't happy with the decision to disqualify him and argued his innocence for ten minutes.
"You're going to choose a default in this situation?" he asked the chair umpire and tournament referee. "My career, Grand Slam, centre stage?
"She doesn't have to go to hospital for this"
The world number one's statement spoke about Djokovic's remorse and regret.
“This whole situation has left me really sad and empty,” he wrote. “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.”
Tournament referee Soeren Friemel said he had “no other option” but to disqualify the Serb, “based on the fact that the ball was hit angrily, recklessly, that it went straight at the line umpire’s throat.
“There are two factors, one is the action and the result,” he said. “And the action – while there was no intent – the result of hitting a line umpire and [her] clearly being hurt is the essential factor in the decision-making process here.”
The US Open released their own statement after the disqualification.
USTA statement on default of Novak Djokovic: pic.twitter.com/dqlt0mokg9
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 6, 2020
The statement says that Djokovic will be "fined the prize money he has won at the tournament."
Australian Nick Kyrgios poked at Djokovic, whom he has said issues with in the past.
Kyrgios asked fans on twitter what punishment he would face should he have committed the same offence.
Swap me for jokers incident. ‘Accidentally hitting the ball kid in the throat’ how many years would I be banned for?
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) September 6, 2020
Alexander Zverev has now become one of the favourites to claim the men’s title, he said the draw was “interesting” after the departure of Djokovic.
“It’s very unlucky, very unfortunate,” he added. “The decision was made by the supervisors and, as I said, they’re just doing their job.”