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Novak Djokovic defaulted from US Open for hitting lineswoman with ball

Novak Djokovic, US Open

In an extraordinary turn of events in this extraordinary year of 2020, Novak Djokovic — the top-ranked men’s tennis player in the world and the No. 1 seed at the US Open — has been defaulted from the tournament for hitting a lineswoman with a ball.

The disqualification — which is in strict accordance with the tennis rule book — occurred in Novak Djokovic’s fourth-round match on Sunday against Pablo Carreno Busta, a 2017 US Open semifinalist who now advances to the quarterfinals of a wide-open men’s tournament in New York.

The story behind this development surrounding Novak Djokovic is complicated, and it’s hard to fully express in a brief period of time, but here is a simple summation: The US Open has an automatic linescalling system named “Hawkeye Live” on its outside courts, but the tournament chose to not use the system for its show courts, Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Novak Djokovic played Pablo Carreno Busta in Ashe Stadium. Therefore, when there was a disputed linescall unable to be instantly reviewed by Hawkeye Live, Djokovic got understandably angry. This incident probably would not have happened if Hawkeye Live had been used in Ashe Stadium.

That point aside, Novak Djokovic did get angry, and he did hit a lineswoman with a ball. Djokovic got lucky a few years ago at the 2016 French Open. He threw a racquet in a fit of anger. The racquet narrowly missed hitting a linesman. Had the racquet hit the linesman, Djokovic would have been defaulted from that tournament as well.

Because the racquet did not hit the linesman, Novak Djokovic continued to play in the tournament. He won the 2016 French Open to complete a career Grand Slam, winning all four major championships.

Speaking of major championships, the other big result of this shocking story is that with Novak Djokovic out of the US Open, and Rafael Nadal (COVID-19 safety reasons) and Roger Federer (injury) unable to play in the tournament, there will be a first-time men’s major champion at this event.