Novak Djokovich defaulted from the 2020 U.S. Open on September 6 after striking a lineswoman in the throat with his ball. Viewers were split on whether the No. 1 tennis player in the world appeared to do so intentionally or was merely hitting the backline in frustration, but Djokovic immediately ran over to the lineswoman after discovering she was hurt.
The New York Times tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg tweeted that Djokovic, who was thus far undefeated in 2020, “was defaulted after a ball he hit in anger struck a lineswoman in head/neck and she fell to [the] ground. Djokovic pleaded his case for many minutes, but to no avail.”
German tennis star Alexander Zverev said during the press conference afterward, “It’s very unlucky, very unfortunate. The decision was made by the supervisors and, as I said, they’re just doing their job. There’s nothing much else I can say to that. I don’t know what to say. I’m just a little bit in shock now, to be honest.”
Commentator James Blake said, “I think it’s the right decision. I think that’s the decision that had to be made,” according to a tweet from Washington City Paper sports editor Kelyn Soong. Darren Cahill agreed. He said, “The nature of the player or ranking of the player cannot come into account…I think the referee made the right decision.”
What Happened Leading Up to Djokovic Striking the Line Judge?
Before Djokovic defaulted, the 33-year-old Serbian star was serving well and playing a great tennis match against Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta at Arthur Ashe Stadium. He generated a triple set point at 5-4* 0-40, as reported by The Guardian’s live updates.
Djokovic then failed to convert three set points and lost six points in a row before falling onto his shoulder at *5-5 0-15. He called the trainer and was able to resume play but grew frustrated after he lost his serve to 15.
Losing his composure, Djokovic decided to fire a ball toward the back wall, which struck the lineswoman in the throat. The lineswoman shrieked in pain and fell to the ground. Djokovic ran over to help her up alongside umpire Aurelie Tourte, The Guardian reported.
After a 10-minute discussion, Djokovic, who’s won 17 Grand Slam titles, defaulted.
Djokovic Skipped the Post-Game Press Conference
After Djokovic defaulted, he exited the stadium without speaking to the media. ESPN’s D’Arcy Maine tweeted:
Looks like Novak Djokovic will not be addressing the media today (and will presumably take the fine for skipping his news conference) and he was just seen leaving the grounds. What a staggering end to his US Open run, and his previously undefeated season.
Maine then tweeted, “Well I think we can officially say Novak Djokovic’s attempt at rehabbing his image at the #USOpen after the Adria Tour disaster did, uh, not go as he hoped.”
Former tennis star Greg Rusedski believed Djokovic should’ve stuck around to face the media afterward. He tweeted, “Unbelievable that @DjokerNole has been defaulted. This was the correct decision under the rules regardless of intent or not. Novak should have stayed for the press conference & apologize. We must take responsibility for our actions no matter how difficult the situation is.”