Novak Djokovic has apologised after hitting a line judge with a ball during his US Open match with Pablo Carreno Busta.
The incident, described by Novak Djokovic as “so unintended”, saw the world No.1 disqualified from the tournament.
Djokovic was trailing Carreno Busta 6-5 in the first set when he vented his frustration by blindly smacking the ball off the court but it flew directly towards a female line judge, who immediately fell to the ground.
The ball appeared to strike the line judge in the throat before Djokovic rushed to check on her but tournament referee Soeren Friemel said there was “no other option” but to disqualify the Serb.
HOLY CRAP. Djokovic defaulted after he inadvertently hits a ball and strikes a line judge in the neck. She had to leave. pic.twitter.com/BECdydrKFw
— Mark Armstrong (@ArmstrongABC11) September 6, 2020
“There are two factors, one is the action and the result,” he said. “And the action – while there was no intent – the result of hitting a line umpire and [her] clearly being hurt is the essential factor in the decision-making process here.”
Djokovic did plead his case during a lengthy conversation with Friemel, as well as Grand Slam supervisor Andreas Egli and chair umpire Aurelie Tourte, but the decision had been made.
— ESPN (@espn) September 6, 2020
Djokovic did not attend the post-match press conference but he did release a statement on social media.
“This whole situation has left me really sad and empty. I checked on the lines person and the tournament told me that thank God she is feeling ok. I’m extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong,” Djokovic wrote.
He added: “As for the disqualification, I need to go back within and work on my disappointment and turn this all into a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and human being.
“I apologise to the @usopen tournament and everyone associated for my behaviour.
“I’m very grateful to my team and family for being my rock support, and my fans for always being there with me. Thank you and I’m so sorry.”