Novak Djokovic has been disqualified from the US Open after hitting a line judge with the ball.
The top seed had just dropped his serve to trail opponent Pablo Carreno Busta 6-5 in the opening set of their fourth-round match on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
He hit a ball behind him in frustration and it struck a female line judge. After the ball was struck, it was immediately clear that the woman was hurt and the Serbian rushed over to check on her condition.
A lengthy discussion followed at the net between tournament officials and Djokovic, before he was sent from the court.
Djokovic had not lost this season, enjoying a 26-match winning run, and had secured his 17th Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open.
In accordance with the Grand Slam rulebook, following his actions of intentionally hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences, the US Open tournament referee defaulted Novak Djokovic from the 2020 US Open. Because he was defaulted, Djokovic will lose all ranking points earned at the US Open and will be fined the prize money won at the tournament in addition to any or all fines levied with respect to the offending incident.
USTA statement on default of Novak Djokovic
Djokovic is not the first player to have been defaulted for something similar, but for it to happen at a Grand Slam and as the tournament favourite is an extraordinary situation.
Canadian Denis Shapovalov was defaulted during a Davis Cup tie against Great Britain in 2017 after smashing a ball in anger which hit umpire Arnaud Gabas in the eye.
Tim Henman, meanwhile, was disqualified from Wimbledon 25 years ago for hitting a ball girl with a ball during a doubles match.
David Nalbandian kicked an advertising hoarding during the Queen’s final in 2012, injuring a line judge, and was defaulted.