What started out a straight-forward day of fourth round play Sunday at the US Open went sideways quick. Novak Djokovic had just been broken to go down 6-5 in his opening set with Pablo Carreno Busta on Ashe.
In digust after dropping serve, Djokovic whacked a ball that connected with a lineswoman behind the baseline.
Tournament supervisor Andreas Egli and Soeren Friemel emerged from the tunnel and on to the court to discuss the situation and make a ruling. Would Djokovic suffer a point or game penalty or would they really default the world No. 1. After a good 5-minute discussion, the latter was chosen and Djokovic, the overwhelming favorite to win the title, was defaulted from the tournament. His chase, for now, for a 18th Grand Slam title was over.
The Serb shook hands with Carreno Busta, packed his bags and left the court. About a half hour later, he was spotted in his car leaving the tournament, without even meeting the press.
“I never expected this moment playing against Novak, you know. So it was tough moment also to me,” Carreno Busta said. “I just ask to him, and then finally Novak give me the hand. That’s it.
“The rules are the rules. These kind of things never likes. The referee and the supervisor do the right thing, but is not easy to do it, no?”
Djokovic later put out a statement on social media.
“This whole situation has left me really sad and empty,” he wrote. “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. I’m not disclosing her name to respect her privacy. As for the disqualification, I need to go back within and work on my disappointment and turn this all into a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and human being. I apologize to the @usopen tournament and everyone associated for my behavior. I’m very grateful to my team and family for being my rock support, and my fans for always being there with me.”
Even Alexander Zverev gave his thoughts.
“It’s unfortunate,” Zverev said following a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win over Alejandro Davidovich. “He hit a ball, he hit a tennis ball. It’s very unfortunate that, you know, he hit the line judge, and especially where it hit her.
Y”eah, there is a rule in place for it. I think the supervisors and all of them are just doing their job. But, yeah, very unlucky for Novak.
“I think he’s going to be a little bit upset about it, but, yeah. He could have — if he would have hit it anywhere else, if it would have landed anywhere else, we are talking about a few inches, he would have been fine. So, yeah, very unlucky.”
Djokovic’s exit means there will be a new Grand Slam champion on the men’s tour for the first time since Marin Cilic won the US Open way back in 2014. Who will it go to?
Zverev will now face Borna Coric who took take of Australia’s Jordan Thompson 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 to reach his first career Slam quarterfinal. The Croat had played two back-to-back 5-setters including an epic with Stefanos Tsitsipas in which he saved six match points, so a quick night was much to his liking.
“It does feel great, to be honest. It’s a very big relief for me,” Coric said of reaching his first Slam quarter. “I wanted this for a very long time. I couldn’t make that step in the last two times.
“I’m just very happy that now after this break, which came very good to me, because I was able to resolve some of my body issues, stuff like that, then I’m playing good. I’m pretty healthy now.”
In the evening, Denis Shapovalov outlasted David Goffin 6-7(0), 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 to become the first Canadian man to make the US Open quarterfinals. The 21-year-old now meet Pablo Carreno Busta.
On Monday, Daniil Medvedev returns as the tournament favorite. He’ll meet the last American standing, Frances Tiafoe. Andrey Rublev tries to reverse a 4th round loss a year ago to Matteo Berrettini. And Dominic Thiem gets a look at the red-hot Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.
“I think when he was only 16 or something he won his first challenger in France I remember,” Thiem said of Auger-Aliassime. “Then last year he played finals in the Rio, played great in Indian Wells, semis in Miami. He was right at the top.
“He’s a great player, as I said. No real weaknesses. Great to watch. Great athlete, great person. The only thing what he’s missing is the experience. That’s what I’m trying to play for my advantage. It’s not my first second week at a slam, but it’s his. That’s probably my biggest advantage what I have in this match.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’m always looking forward to play against these young superstars, as I’m 27 for a few days, not young any more. I think going to be a great encounter.”
Vasek Pospisil tries to continue his dream run against Alex De Minaur. Pospisil once made a quarterfinal back at 2015 Wimbledon.
Bottom line, a week from today we’ll have another Grand Slam winner.
“Now it gets interesting. Now I think is the time where it gets really interesting,” Zverev said of a new Slam winner. “I know who is where in the draw. I know who I can play. I know who the rest of the guys can play. Yeah. We’ll see where we go from here.”
You Might Like:
Novak Djokovic Gets Defaulted At US Open For Hitting Lineswoman At US Open
WTA Player Gets Defaulted For Throwing Racquet In Crowd [Video]
Doubles Team At Napoli Challenger Defaulted After Accidentally Hitting Opponent In Head With Ball [Video]
2015 Grand Slam Predictions: Will We Crown A New Champion?
Uncle Toni Leaves Door Open For A New Super Coach Next Year For Rafa