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Novak Djokovic defaulted from the U.S. Open after striking line judge with tennis ball

Number one and common favorite player Novak Djokovic was disqualified during his fourth-round match of the U.S. Open on Sunday. This disqualification came after Djokovic accidentally hit a line judge with a ball in a show of frustration.

After losing his first service set to Pablo Correno Busta 6-5, Djokovic was visibly irked, leading him to strike a ball towards the stands without looking. Unfortunately for Djokovic, the ball made contact with the throat of a neighboring line judge, causing her to require medical attention. While this incident may have been unintentional, it resulted in Djokovic being defaulted from the tournament.

Not only was Djokovic heavily favored to win the U.S. Open, but this would also have been his 18th grand slam title, a feat that only two other male players have ever accomplished. Those players being his rivals, Rafael Nadal (19) and Roger Federer (20), both of whom are not competing in this event. Thus, most believed this was essentially a free grand slam for the current number one player in the world.

Despite shaking hands with Carreno Busta then leaving the premises without speaking to any media personnel, Djokovic apologized in an Instagram post:

“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.”

Reviewing the video, Djokovic was clearly not attempting to spike the line judge in the throat just because he had lost his first set to a formidable opponent in Carreno Busta. Within his apology on social media, it’s apparent that he realizes that, unintentional or not, his actions were despicably wrong, especially on a stage as large as the U.S. Open. While Djokovic will not see the end of the backlash any time soon, it comforts his supporters and tennis supporters in general to know that he is using this as a lesson for his “growth and evolution as a player and human being.”

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