The overwhelming US Open favorite Novak Djokovic was stunningly defaulted from his fourth-round match versus Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta on Sunday after striking a lineswoman in the neck with a ball hit in frustration.
The incident occurred late in the first set with Djokovic trailing 6-5.
The disqualification cited is “abuse of ball” when it is struck with “negligent disregard for consequences.’’
Djokovic, who was 29-0 this year and the US Open No. 1 seed, spoke calmly with the tournament referees for 10 minutes to explain the situation. It did not appear Djokovic intentionally hit the lineswoman after Busta had taken the lead.
Djokovic, 33, blindly hit the ball to the back wall, striking the woman, who stayed down for a few minutes before being removed from the court. Djokovic reacted with stunned concern after the ball struck her and went directly over to her. It did not appear the officials looked at the replays.
Djokovic also had hit a ball in anger earlier in the set.
The USTA said in a statement: “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.”
It was a stunning end to Djokovic’s bid to post an undefeated season.
The Open is already missing Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Djokovic injured his shoulder in a fall earlier in the set.