Novak Djokovic’s quest to capture an 18th major singles title came to a stop after he defaulted from his US Open singles match on Sunday. Trailing Spaniard Pablo Carreño Busta 5-6 in the first set of the fourth round of a match, Djokovic pulled a ball out of his pocket and swatted it towards the backside of the tennis court. The ball struck a line judge in her throat.
After the linesperson fell to the ground, Djokovic ran to check on her. After the judge was attended to by medical personnel, Djokovic was disqualified from the match by tournament referee Soeren Friemel.
After the match, Djokovic left the stadium without speaking to reporters. “This whole situation has left me really sad and empty,” Djokovic posted later on Instagram. “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.”
Djokovic’s exit from the tournament was abrupt. He was the only player remaining in the men’s draw who had won a Grand Slam Singles title.
The tournament is being held with no spectators for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic. Players and their teams are being tested daily, and are restricted to their lodging and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center while they are in New York.
In a statement, the United States Tennis Association said that Djokovic would be fined the prize money he would’ve earned in the tournament ($250,000) in addition to any fines that are a result of this incident. Djokovic also will likely be fined $20,000 for leaving before his mandatory post-match news conference.