Novak Djokovic disqualified from US Open after hitting line judge with ball

Title favourite Novak Djokovic was sensationally defaulted from the US Open after hitting a line judge with a ball.

The top seed and 17-time grand slam champion had just dropped serve to trail Spanish opponent Pablo Carreno Busta 6-5 in the opening set of their fourth-round match on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

He hit a ball behind him in annoyance that hit a female line judge. A lengthy discussion followed between tournament officials and Djokovic as the Serbian argued his case to no avail.

There was no question Djokovic did not intend to hit the line judge, and the ball was not hit particularly hard, but it was clear immediately that the woman was hurt, with the Serbian rushing over to check on her condition.

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Novak Djokovic disqualified at US Open
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Novak Djokovic disqualified at US Open
Sep 6, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia and a tournament official tend to a linesperson who was struck with a ball by Djokovic against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain (not pictured) on day seven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Sep 6, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia and a tournament official tend to a linesperson who was struck with a ball by Djokovic against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain (not pictured) on day seven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Sep 6, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia and a tournament official tend to a linesperson who was struck with a ball by Djokovic against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain (not pictured) on day seven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Sep 6, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia discusses with a tournament official after being defaulted for striking a lines person with a ball against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain (not pictured) on day seven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Sep 6, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia discusses with a tournament official after being defaulted for striking a lines person with a ball against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain (not pictured) on day seven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Sep 6, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia discusses with a tournament official after being defaulted for striking a lines person with a ball against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain (not pictured) on day seven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Sep 6, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia leaves the court after being defaulted for striking a lines person with a ball against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain (not pictured) on day seven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Sep 6, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia shakes hands with Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain after being defaulted for striking a lines person with a ball on day seven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Sep 6, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia discusses with a tournament official after being defaulted for striking a lines person with a ball against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain (not pictured) on day seven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Sep 6, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a forehand against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain (not pictured) on day seven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Sep 6, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia discusses with a tournament official after being defaulted for striking a lines person with a ball against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain (L) on day seven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Sep 6, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia leaves the court after being defaulted for striking a lines person with a ball against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain (not pictured) on day seven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Sep 6, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts after losing a point against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain (not pictured) on day seven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 06: Novak Djokovic of Serbia looks on after being defaulted due to inadvertently striking a lineswoman with a ball hit in frustration during his Men's Singles fourth round match against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain on Day Seven of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 6, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 06: Novak Djokovic of Serbia packs his bag to leave the court after being defaulted due to inadvertently striking a lineswoman with a ball hit in frustration during his Men's Singles fourth round match against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain on Day Seven of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 6, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 06: Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain leaves the court after Novak Djokovic of Serbia defaulted after inadvertently striking a lineswoman with a ball hit in frustration during their Men's Singles fourth round match on Day Seven of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 6, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. Djokovic was defaulted from the match. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 06: Novak Djokovic of Serbia walks off the court after being defaulted due to inadvertently striking a lineswoman with a ball hit in frustration during his Men's Singles fourth round match against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain on Day Seven of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 6, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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He pleaded his case at length before accepting his fate, collecting his rackets and walking off the court.

The decision will send shockwaves through the sport. Djokovic won his 17th slam singles title in Australia and was an overwhelming favourite to make it 18 in New York having not lost a match all season.

Djokovic is not the first player to have been defaulted for something similar, but for it to happen at a grand slam and as the tournament favourite is an extraordinary situation.

Canadian Denis Shapovalov was defaulted during a Davis Cup tie against Great Britain in 2017 after smashing a ball in anger that hit umpire Arnaud Gabas in the eye.

Tim Henman, meanwhile, was disqualified from Wimbledon 25 years ago for hitting a ball girl with a ball during a doubles match, while David Nalbandian kicked an advertising hoarding during the Queen's final in 2012, injuring a line judge, and was defaulted.

Speaking on Amazon Prime, Henman said: "It's a massive shock. There's no doubt that it's the right decision. It's amazing for me to talk about this because it happened to me at Wimbledon in 1995. It was that moment of frustration, hit the ball away when I wasn't looking and I hit a ball girl in the ear."

Henman added: "I remember going back to the locker room in a state of shock and then going into the press conference.

"It was probably one of the busiest press conferences I've ever been into and the first question was: 'How do you feel, the first person in 120 years to be disqualified at Wimbledon'. I was shocked, I was embarrassed and I was very disappointed."

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