For the first time in 16 years, none of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer will feature in the final eight of a Grand Slam.
Following Djokovic's disqualification for unintentionally hitting a line judge, a Grand Slam will not feature any of men's tennis's top three for the first time in 16 years, leaving the US Open awaiting its new champion.
In his fourth-round match against Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, the Serbian dropped his serve to fall 6-5 behind in the opening set of the match.
In response, Djokovic lashed a ball towards the back of the court, in the process hitting one of the line judges. A lengthy discussion with officials ensued, which ultimately saw Djokovic leave Flushing Meadows without speaking to the media.
"I checked on the linesperson 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," said the world number one on social media.
“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 apologise to the US Open tournament and everyone associated for my behaviour.
”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.”
Following his disqualification, this year’s US Open will be the first Grand Slam in 16 years that won’t feature one of the big three of Djokovic, Federer or Nadal at the quarter-final stage.
The last time that happened was way back at the 2004 French Open, where Federer was eliminated in the third round by Gustavo Kuerten and neither Djokovic nor Nadal competed. The tournament was eventually won by Argentine Gaston Gaudio.
The tournament is also set to be the first Grand Slam since 2016 won by somebody other than Djokovic, Federer or Nadal. The last person to do so was Stan Wawrinka, who won this tournament four years ago, beating Djokovic 6–7, 6–4, 7–5, 6–3 in the final.
As Wawrinka is not present this year, the US Open will have a new champion, with three-time Grand Slam finalist Dominic Thiem as one of the favourites. Alexander Zverev, the 23-year-old whose best Grand Slam performance was the 2020 Australian Open semi-finals, is also a contender.
"It's going to be one of the young guys (winning), I think, if you count Dominic Thiem as a young guy, as well," said the German.
In Thiem's way is Daniil Medvedev, who made the final of the US Open last year, losing 7–5, 6–3, 5–7, 4–6, 6–4 to Nadal.
Zverev, meanwhile, will count himself fortunate to have avoided a likely encounter with Djokovic in the semi-final.
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