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Novak Djokovic, the number one seed at this year’s US Open and the prohibitive favorite to win the tournament, was just disqualified in the round of 16 for hitting a line judge with a tennis ball. Footage of the incident is quickly racing around the internet and is the top story on numerous sports websites. You can check out the moment below…
The unfortunate incident occurred in the first set of Djokovic’s match against Pablo Carreno Busta. The multiple major champion had just lost a game to fall behind 6 to 5 in the match when he turned and hit the ball out of frustration. It struck a line judge in the neck, who immediately fell to her knees in distress. You can tell by the way Djokovic reacted that he didn’t intend to strike her, but after a discussion for several minutes with the rules officials, he was disqualified.
After the unfortunate incident, Djokovic hit up social media to apologize for what happened. He expressed relief that the line judge was feeling ok, vowed to use it as a lesson for personal growth and tried to make amends with those who run the US Open for what happened. You can read his social media post in its entirety below...
Novak Djokovic getting disqualified at a major tennis event would always be a major story, but at this year's US Open, it's particularly shocking. The Serbian legend has won 17 Grand Slam singles titles, which is the third most of any male player in history. As such, he's usually the favorite or at least one of several favorites going into any tournament, but with longtime rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the only two men with more Grand Slam titles, both electing to sit out for health and/ or Covid-19 reasons, he was considered an especially strong bet this time around.
Tennis might be considered among the most prim and proper sports, but there's a long history of players getting into conflicts with umpires. Pop culture icon John McEnroe was particularly famous for his outbursts including one particularly aggressive shouting match at Wimbledon that produced his catch phrase "you cannot be serious." Perhaps the most famous recent incident, however, came from Denis Shapovalov who accidentally hit the chair umpire in the face with a ball that looked like it was going a hundred miles an hour. That one makes this incident with Djokovic look like child's play.
The US Open will continue without Djokovic for the next week. The men's final is scheduled to take place next Sunday. You'd have to think the new betting line favorite would be Daniil Medvedev who went into the tournament as the number three seed, but it'll take some time for the oddsmakers to recalibrate. Regardless, it's a great opportunity on the men's side of the draw for someone to step up and unexpectedly win a Grand Slam. Here's to hoping someone seizes the moment, and of course, that the poor line judge who was hit in the neck doesn't have any lingering health issues.