World No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic was disqualified from the US open - here’s why

Monday, 7th September 2020, 11:55 am
Updated Monday, 7th September 2020, 11:55 am
Djokovic was disqualified after hitting a line judge with a tennis ball (Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)
Djokovic was disqualified after hitting a line judge with a tennis ball (Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)

World No. 1 seed and 17-time Grand Slam Champion Novak Djokovic was defaulted from the 2020 US open during his fourth-round match against No. 20 seed Pablo Carreno Busta.

This is everything you need to know about what happened - and what it means for the US Open 2020 men’s singles final.

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How did the drama unfold?

During his fourth-round match against Pablo Carreno Busta, Djokovic received a medical timeout for his left shoulder while trailing 0-30.

After he was treated, the match resumed but Carreno Busta won the game three points later.

In response to his loss, Djokovic hit a ball to the back of the court in anger and it struck a line umpire.

Officials ruled that Djokovic would be defaulted from the match.

Talking to reporters after the match, Carreno Busta said: “I didn’t watch the moment when he [hit] the ball - I was looking to my coach, celebrating the break.

“I asked the Colombian guys who were in the crowd if the ball hit the line [umpire]. I was in shock… I hope the best for her. I hope that she will be okay as soon as possible.”

Why was Djokovic disqualified?

According to the United States Tennis Association (USTA), there are two ways to be defaulted from a match: through an accumulation of code violations, or “by a singularly egregious act”, such as Djokovic’s.

The tennis player was defaulted from the tournament by US Open Referee Soeren Friemel following a discussion between Djokovic, Grand Slam Supervisor Andreas Egli and chair umpire Aurélie Tourte.

Friemel said: “The facts were discussed and explained by the chair umpire and the Grand Slam Supervisor.

“In this situation, it is especially important that we are 100 percent sure what exactly happened. The facts were established, and then I had to speak to Novak Djokovic, [to] give him the chance to state his point of view.

"His point was that he didn't hit the line umpire intentionally... We all agree that he didn't do it on purpose, but the facts are still that he hit the line umpire and that the line umpire was clearly hurt."

Friemel told reporters after the match: “Based on the facts that the ball was hit angrily, recklessly; that it went straight at the line umpire’s throat; that the line umpire was clearly hurt and in pain, the decision was made the Novak [Djokovic] had to be defaulted.”

The USTA states that a default is one of tennis’ “rarest punishments”. It issued this statement regarding Djokovic's disqualification: “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 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."

Did Djokovic apologise?

Following his disqualification, Djokovic took to Instagram to issue a statement.

Posting on his official Instagram account, Djokovic wrote: “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. I’m not disclosing her name to respect her privacy.

“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 apologize to the @usopen tournament and everyone associated for my behavior. 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.”

A tournament spokesperson told Reuters that the line judge appeared to be okay after the incident, and was “not brought off site”.

Who could win the US Open finals now?

Djokovic’s disqualification means that for the first time since 2014, the US Open is guaranteed to see a first time Grand Slam champion in the men’s singles.

Djokovic had been the favourite to win the US Open men’s singles title, and both Nadal and Federer decided to opt out of the 2020 Grand Slam.

Nadal cited the fact that the coronavirus pandemic is still not under control for his reasoning, and Federer is missing the US Open due to undertaking rehab for his knee operations from earlier this year.

The top seeds still remaining in the running are No. 2 Dominic Thiem and No. 3 Daniil Medvedev.

No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas is no longer in the running.

After Thiem and Medvedev, the remaining top seeds are: No. 5 Alexander Zverev, No. 6 Matteo Berrettini, No. 10 Andrey Rublev and No. 12 Denis Shapovalov.

These are the odds that betting site William Hill is offering for who will win:

  • Daniil Medvedev 15/8
  • Denis Shapovalov 10/1
  • Andrey Rublec 18/1
  • Alex De Minaur 28/1
  • Dominic Thiem 7/2
  • Felix Auger Aliassime 11/1
  • Borna Coric 18/1
  • Vasek Pospisil 40/1
  • Alexander Zverev 4/1
  • Matteo Berrettini 12/1
  • Pablo Carreno Busta 25/1
  • Frances Tiafoe 100/1