Novak Djokovic, the favourite for the men’s singles title at the US Open, is out of the competition after he accidentally hit a line judge in the neck when he hit the ball back off his racket.
He had just lost a point in the opening set.
Players who hit another person on the court can be automatically disqualified from the competition by way of a loss.
Djokovic realized immediately he hit her and approached the person.
Pablo Carreno Busta, the No. 20 seed and a 2017 semifinalist, will advance to the quarterfinals. The score of the first set was 6-5.
There will be a new Grand Slam men’s singles champion for the first time in six years.
Carreno Busta went on a run after trailing 5-4 and rattled off five points in a row. One of those was overturned by a challenge and he evened up the match.
After a third break point, Djokovic smashed the ball and hit the sideboard after play ended, via BBC Sports. Commentators noted that it could be bad if he did that and were to hit someone, and wondered why he hadn’t been given a warning for the dangerous move.
He has a history of similar actions.
At one point before his default, Djokovic fell over when Carreno Busta forced him to change directions.
He appeared to hurt his left shoulder.
He was trying to win his 18th career Grand Slam. He was 26-0 so far this season.
Djokovic attempted to state his case to stay in the competition, telling the officials he could take a game penalty or set penalty rather than a full tournament ouster.
Via Ben Rothenberg at The New York Times, Djokovic also noted that the line judge was able to get up and didn’t need to be taken to the hospital.
Official Andreas Egli reportedly stood firm, while Djokovic continued his plea, saying, “If she would have gotten up right away …” per Rothenberg. The line judge dropped to her knees on the hit near the back of the court and reached for her neck.
Chair umpire Aurelie Tourte made the announcement to an empty stadium — no fans are allowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic after Djokovic went over to shake hands with Carreno Busta.
Djokovic will lose all ranking points and be fined the prize money he won for reaching the round of 16, according to the USTA statement.