Novak Djokovic, the 17-time Grand Slam champion, was disqualified from the US Open after hitting a ball at a line judge on Sunday night.
After having his serve broken by 20th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, a frustrated Djokovic hit a spare ball from his pocket to the back of the court. Unfortunately for Djokovic, and for the vocal cords of the unsuspecting line judge, the ball flew straight into her throat, causing her to fall to the floor.
After rushing over to check on the injured line judge and a lengthy discussion with officials, Djokovic was disqualified from the tournament, gathered his bags and left the stadium refusing to speak to the waiting press.
A statement from the USTA stated the Serbian was disqualified for “hitting a ball with negligent disregard for the consequences."
Although videos clearly show Djokovic’s guilt, many were quick to defend the world number one. The angle of the original video of the incident combined with the lack of effort put into the frustrated swing by Djokovic, gives the appearance that the ball was not hit powerfully.
However, a video posted on Twitter after the incident from a different angle shows the ball was travelling at some speed as it sailed towards the line judge.
Although many fans on social media still claim that the official the ball hit was overreacting, it’s important to remember Djokovic can serve a ball at 136mph. It’s not your average player casually hitting this ball, it’s one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Of course it’s going to hurt.
Djokovic clearly didn’t intend to hurt anyone, but the ball was hit in anger and the umpire of the match said he was left with “no other option."
Djokovic issued a heartfelt apology on Instagram later that day, saying his actions were ‘so unintended. So wrong.’
Many other tennis professionals have also spoken about the incident. One of the favourites to claim victory at the US Open after Djokovic’s departure Alexander Zverev said: “It’s very unlucky, very unfortunate."
Although many fans will still claim the disqualification was unfair, the new video footage clearly shows that regardless of the accidental nature of the accident, it was serious enough to warrant the action from the officials.
- A Djokovic interview from 2016 goes viral
- Djokovic's reaction to being disqualified
- Djokovic hitting the line judge at US Open