Novak Djokovic out on default after hitting line judge

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Novak Djokovic, the clear favorite for the men’s singles title at the US Open, is out of the competition via a default.

Djokovic, the world No. 1, accidentally hit a line judge in the neck when he hit the ball back off his racket. He had just lost a point in the opening set.

Players who hit another person on the court can be automatically disqualified from the competition by way of a loss. Djokovic realized immediately he hit her and approached the person.

Pablo Carreno Busta, the No. 20 seed and a 2017 semifinalist, will advance to the quarterfinals. The score of the first set was 6-5.

There will be a new Grand Slam men’s singles champion for the first time in six years.

Djokovic hits line judge after bad run

Carreno Busta went on a run after trailing 5-4 and rattled off five points in a row. One of those was overturned by a challenge and he evened up the match.

After a third break point he smashed the ball and hit the sideboard after play had ended, via BBC Sports. Commentators noted that it could be bad if he did that and were to hit someone, and wondered why he hadn’t been given a warning for the dangerous move.

He’s also had a history of similar actions.

At one point before his default, Djokovic fell over when Carreno Busta forced him to change directions. He appeared to hurt his left shoulder.

He was trying to win his 18th career Grand Slam. He was 26-0 so far this season.

Djokovic attempts to plead case

Djokovic attempted to state his case to stay in the competition, telling the officials he could take a game penalty or set penalty rather than a full tournament ouster.

Via Ben Rothenberg at the New York Times, he also noted that she was able to get up and didn’t need to be taken to the hospital.

Official Lars Graff reportedly stood firm, telling Djokovic “If she would have gotten up right away…” per Rothenberg. The line judge dropped to her knees on the hit near the back of the court and reached for her neck.

Chair umpire Aurelie Tourte made the announcement to an empty stadium — no fans are allowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic — after Djokovic went over to shake hands with Carreno Busta.

Djokovic will lose all ranking points and be fined the prize money he won for reaching the round of 16, per the USTA statement.

Only two courts have line judges this time around as the tournament organizers attempt to keep the number of people in the arenas at a minimum due to the pandemic. Calls on other courts are being made electronically.

US Open will have first-time Grand Slam winner

Djokovic was the clear favorite for the US Open men’s singles title since fellow star competitors Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal had opted out due to the pandemic.

The victor will now be a first-time winner. It’s the first time since 2014, when Marin Cilic won the US Open, that a Grand Slam will have a first-time trophy winner.

Djokovic, Federer and Nadal have won 52 of the past 61 majors, per the Associated Press. The only non-“Big 3” competitor to win a major since 2017 is Stan Wawrinka, who won the 2016 US Open.

And the last time there was a Grand Slam without at least one of them as a semifinalist was at the 2004 French Open.

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