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Novak Djokovic speaks out for the first time after default incident

Novak Djokovic, US Open, Tennis

Tennis star and men’s world No. 1 Novak Djokovic was at the center of controversy on Sunday after he accidentally struck a lineswoman with a ball at the US Open.

Djokovic smashed the ball towards the back wall after losing on serve late in the first set against Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, inadvertently hitting the lineswoman in the throat.

The Serbian star was subsequently defaulted from the tournament after a lengthy discussion with tournament officials, leaving the tennis world in shock.

Djokovic recently took to Instagram to explain his feelings, saying the incident has left him “really sad and empty.” Rather than show disdain at tournament officials for the default decision, Djokovic apologized to the lineswoman in question, also stating he hopes to this will be “a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and human being.”

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This whole situation has left me really sad and empty. 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. Thank you and I’m so sorry. Cela ova situacija me čini zaista tužnim i praznim. Proverio sam kako se oseća linijski sudija, i prema informacijama koje sam dobio, oseća se dobro, hvala Bogu. Njeno ime ne mogu da otkrijem zbog očuvanja njene privatnosti. Jako mi je žao što sam joj naneo takav stres. Nije bilo namerno. Bilo je pogrešno. Želim da ovo neprijatno iskustvo, diskvalifikaciju sa turnira, pretvorim u važnu životnu lekciju, kako bih nastavio da rastem i razvijam se kao čovek, ali i teniser. Izvinjavam se organizatorima US Opena. Veoma sam zahvalan svom timu i porodici što mi pružaju snažnu podršku, kao i mojim navijačima jer su uvek uz mene. Hvala vam i žao mi je. Bio je ovo težak dan za sve.

A post shared by Novak Djokovic (@djokernole) on

Djokovic had previously lashed out in anger at losing a point just a few moments prior to striking the judge, which also likely factored into the default decision.

In any case, the overwhelming tournament favorite is out in a shocking turn of events.

“Nole” was hoping to capture his 18th career Grand Slam title in Flushing, Queens, as both Roger Federer (injury) and Rafael Nadal (health concerns) were absent from the men’s field. Djokovic was also coming off a win at the Western & Southern Open, which was also held in Flushing the week prior.

Instead, Novak Djokovic will depart from the grounds with nothing but disappointment. That said, he made no excuses for his actions, which is notable considering his polarizing reputation in the sport.