Since the beginning of the season, Novak Djokovic has been the player to beat on the Tour. The Serb claimed all 26 wins at the ATP Cup, the Australian Open, Dubai, Cincinnati and the US Open, seeking the 18th Major title in New York.
After passing the opening three rounds at the US Open, Novak had to leave the court earlier than expected against Pablo Carreno Busta on Sunday night, experiencing his first career default! Facing the Spaniard on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Novak wasted three set points on the return at 5-4, losing focus and suffering a break in the next game to push the opponent 6-5 in front.
Frustrated with the outcome of the last couple of games and a shoulder injury, Novak hit the lineswoman with the ball in the throat, causing her to fall and fight for air under the mask. Even though there were no intentions from world no.
1, the officials had to default him for the first time in a career after a conversation, leaving the door open for the remaining 12 players to fight for a Major title next Sunday. Novak was rock-solid in the opening nine games, presenting one good hold after another and creating a break chance in the eighth game.
A former semi-finalist Carreno Busta saved it to remain on the scoreboard's positive side, only to face an even more dangerous test behind the initial shot at 4-5. Djokovic had three set points up for grabs, losing the next five points and throwing the ball in anger towards a banner.
The momentum had switched to the Spaniard's side and he forged a 30-0 lead in the 11th game, with Djokovic taking a medical timeout for the left should injury following a nasty fall.
Novak Djokovic got defaulted in the fourth round of the US Open.
Carreno Busta broke Djokovic at 15 to move 6-5 in front before Novak sent that ball that had cost him a chance of fighting for the 18th Major crown, hitting the lineswoman and leaving the court after a couple of minutes spent in a conversation with the officials.
Novak had already left the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center before an official statement, expressing himself on Instagram and saying he is sorry about everything. "This whole situation has left me sad and empty.
I checked on the linesperson, 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 into a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and human being. I apologize to the @usopen tournament and everyone associated with 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," Novak Djokovic said.