Novak Djokovic and his irritable tendencies flirted once too often with a catastrophe on Sunday evening when he fell sensationally behind at the US Open.
The world's number one was kicked out of Flushing Meadows when, in an overly frequent temperament, he wiped away a ball that hit a judge in the throat.
The 33-year-old Serb, who was a big favorite of the tournament, was already showing signs of frustration at the resistance of Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta when it was broken 5-6 in the opening set.
Novak Djokovic was disqualified from the US Open for hitting a ball at a linesman
Djokovic of Serbia checks out a line woman after hitting her with a ball at the US Open
While the ball was clearly not aiming at them, it hit the officer who tipped over. The rules are very clear: he had to go.
Referee Soeren Friemel was called to the pitch by referee Aurelie Tourte at the abandoned Arthur Ashe Stadium. Djokovic was told after much debate that there was no option.
He was heard begging for your indulgence, all to no avail.
"She doesn't have to go to the hospital for that," he said when he stood at the network with a shocked expression on his face. "Will you choose a standard in this situation? My career, Grand Slam, focus?"
Djokovic shakes hands with Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta after failing the game
Friemel, supported by the senior official Andreas Egli, held on, even when he added: "You have a game penalty, a penalty, many options."
Djokovic quickly left the stadium without attending the mandatory press conference to explain himself.
This rejection by the newly appointed head of a players' union was quickly criticized by ex-Briton Greg Rusedski, among others: “It's a very difficult situation, but he should have come to the press, assumed responsibility and apologized for the situation. Rusedski told Amazon Prime.
Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios asked a question on Twitter: “Trade me for an incident with Jokern (Djokovic). "Accidentally hit the ball kid in the throat" How many years would I be banned?
See this post on Instagram
This whole situation made me really sad and empty. I checked the line person and the tournament told me that thank god it was fine. I am very sorry for causing her such stress. So unintentional. So wrong. I am not disclosing your name to respect your privacy. As for the disqualification, I have to go inside again and work on my disappointment and make all of this a lesson for my growth and development as a player and a person. I apologize to the @usopen tournament and everyone involved for my behavior. I am very grateful to my team and family for being my rock supporter and my fans for being with me forever. Thanks and I'm so sorry. Cela ova situacija me čini zaista tužnim i praznim. Proverio sam kako se oseća linijski sudija, i prema informacijama koje sam dobio, oseća se dobro, hvala Bogu. Njeno ime ne mogu da otkrijem zbog očuvanja njene privatnosti. Jako mi je žao što sam joj naneo takav stres. Nije bilo namerno. Bilo je pogrešno. Želim da ovo neprijatno iskustvo, diskvalifikaciju sa turnira, pretvorim u važnu životnu lekciju. Izvinjavam se organization at the US Opena. Veoma sam zahvalan svom timu i porodici što mi pružaju snažnu podršku, kao i mojim navijačima jer su uvek uz mene. Hvala vam i žao mi je. Bio je ovo težak dan za sve.
Hours later, Djokovic released a statement that read: “This whole situation made me really sad and empty. I checked the line person and the tournament told me that thank god it was fine.
"I'm very sorry for causing her such stress. So inadvertently. So wrong. I'm not giving your name out to respect your privacy. As for the disqualification, I have to go inside again and work on my disappointment and make all of this a lesson for my growth and development as a player and person.
& # 39; I apologize to the US Open tournament and everyone involved for my behavior. I am very grateful to my team and family for being my rock supporter and my fans for being with me forever. Thanks and I'm so sorry. "
This was arguably the most dramatic disqualification since British referee Gerry Armstrong, now Wimbledon referee, booted John McEnroe from the Australian Open in 1990 for verbal abuse.
Djokovic leaves the field after falling behind with accidental hits on a line woman
Djokovic had very likely contributed to his seventeen major titles and was in great shape. He had set a 26-0 record for 2020 that may have lengthened by the end of that strange season. It is a heavy blow to his hopes of grabbing Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, both missing from Flushing Meadows and with nineteen and twenty Grand Slam titles respectively. At 33, he can hardly afford to miss such opportunities and a £ 123,000 fine is the least.
One result of the drama is that for the first time since Marin Cilic six years ago there will be a long-awaited new Grand Slam master in men's tennis in New York.
There's no question that Djokovic's angry thug didn't mean hurting anyone. As soon as he saw that he had hit his unintended target, he gestured his apology, knowing he was in big trouble.
Tim Henman was delayed over a similar Wimbledon calamity 25 years ago. "It's the right decision. It happened to me at Wimbledon 1995 in the same scenario: you have to be responsible for your actions, if you look at the facts you have to be behind schedule.
Djokovic was then frustrated and fired a ball behind which the line woman hit in the throat
This time around, it was worn by someone who at times pretends to be above the sport as they try to cement a legacy comparable to that of Nadal and Federer.
Djokovic has sailed close to the wind many times, and in anger he has knocked away balls that went into the crowd or aggressively tore towels from ball kids.
There was a notable incident at the French Open in 2016 when he played against the Czech Tomas Berdych. He threw his bat into the clay at a line judge, and when it bounced it was only thanks to the officer's reflexes that missed his head. He could have gone there and not won his individual title at Roland Garros.
In a way, this is a fair end to a lockdown summer that has severely tarnished the reputation of a highly intelligent, motivated and complex man who is undoubtedly one of the greatest players of all time.
Djokovic speaks to the referee after accidentally hitting a linesman with a ball on Sunday
He organized the disastrous Adriatic tour around the Balkans, which had to be canceled when numerous participants, including himself and his wife, tested positive for coronavirus.
The entire guiding principle of the exhibition series appeared to be that Covid 19 was something to be overlooked, and there was a definite lack of social distancing throughout production. It overshadowed his sizeable charity donations in Covid.
He was previously criticized by one of Serbia's leading epidemiologists for his anti-vaccine views.
He must now decide on his next move ahead of the French Open, which is due to take place later this month. Dominic Thiem, number two, becomes the new favorite at the US Open, and a new champion is guaranteed.
Djokovic (right) tries to help after hitting the linesman with a ball in the neck at the US Open
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