US Open Favorite Novak Djokovic Disqualified After Hitting Line Judge With Ball Mid-Match

No. 1 tennis player’s act of frustration leaves men’s draw wide open

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 tennis player in the world and heavy favorite to win the U.S. Open, was disqualified from the New York tournament on Sunday after he inadvertently struck a line judge with a tennis ball in an act of frustration.

Djokovic, a three-time U.S. Open champion and 17-time Grand Slam champion, was expected to cruise to the finals as his main rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, had withdrawn from the tournament due to COVID-19 concerns. Instead, he exits in the fourth round after falling behind in the first set to Pablo Carreno Busta. While heading to the bench for a changeover, Djokovic struck a ball behind him in frustration after losing a game, hitting a line judge who fell to her knees but was not injured. After discussion between officials, Djokovic was disqualified, sending Carreno Busta to the quarterfinals.

Between them, Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have won 33 of the 40 Grand Slam men’s tournaments held in the 2010s. The last male tennis player aside from those three to win a Grand Slam was Stan Wawrinka at the 2016 U.S. Open. Djokovic’s disqualification guarantees that this year’s U.S. Open, being held without crowds due to the pandemic, will have a first-time Grand Slam champion in the men’s draw. The new favorite is Austrian native Dominic Thiem, who is currently ranked No. 3 in the world and lost to Djokovic in the finals of the Australian Open earlier this year.

Watch the incident in the clip below:


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