Djokovic ‘sad and empty’ after US Open Expulsion

Novak Djokovic has been kicked out of the US Open after accidentally hitting a line judge with a ball in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows.

The Serb, bidding for his 18th Grand Slam title, was trailing Pablo Carreno Busta 6-5 in the first set when he angrily hit the ball behind him. The ball struck the line judge who dropped to her knees and reached for her throat.

Djokovic pleaded his case during a 10-minute discussion involving tournament referee Soeren Friemel, Grand Slam supervisor Andreas Egli and chair umpire Aurelie Tourte.

“His point was that he didn’t hit the line umpire intentionally. He said, ‘Yes, I was angry. I hit the ball. I hit the line umpire. The facts are very clear. But it wasn’t my intent. I didn’t do it on purpose.’ So he said he shouldn’t be defaulted for it,” said Friemel, who made the decision to end the match. “And we all agree that he didn’t do it on purpose, but the facts are still that he hit the line umpire and the line umpire was clearly hurt.”

Friemel said he did not see what happened and was not allowed to see a video replay, but was given a run down by Egli and Tourte. Friemel explained that even though Djokovic did not mean to hurt the line judge, she was hurt, and that was enough for them to expel Djokovic from the tournament.

Djokovic left the tournament grounds without speaking to reporters but took to social media to issue an apology later.

“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,” Djokovic wrote.

“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,” he wrote. “I apologize to the @usopen tournament and everyone associated for my behavior.”

The US Tennis Association issued a statement saying that Friemel defaulted Djokovic “in accordance with the Grand Slam rulebook, following his actions of intentionally hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences.”

Djokovic will forfeit the ranking points he had earned in the tournament so far, his $250,000 prize money and will also be fined.

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