The US Open tournament referee Soeren Friemel told the media on Sunday that there was no other option besides defaulting World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, after the Serbian hit a ball in anger which struck a lines person on her throat during his fourth round match against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta.
After dropping his serve to go down 5-6 in the first set of the match, Djokovic hit a ball to the back of the court, which went on to hit a female line judge in her throat. As soon as he hit the ball, the Serbian player realised his mistake, and ran over to the lines person to apologise to her.
After Tournament referee, Soeren Friemel and the Grand Slam supervisor, Andreas Egli, came on court, and had discussions with the chair umpire and Djokovic, the Serb was defaulted from the tournament in a move that left tennis fans across the world stunned.
While it was clear that Djokovic did not have any intent to hit the lines person, the rules as per the Grand Slams are pretty straight forward. “Players shall not at any time physically abuse any official, opponent, spectator or other person within the precincts of the tournament site.
The referee, in consultation with the Grand Slam chief of supervisors may declare a default for either a single violation of this code”.
US Open Tournament Referee's statement on the default of Novak Djokovic
According to the Tennis Majors website, US Open tournament referee Soeren Friemel made a statement to the media regarding the disqualification.
“I saw the line umpire.. was on the ground with the doctor, the physiotherapist, next to her as well, Novak and the chair umpire, we took care of the line umpire, making sure she is alright, then the grand slam supervisor (Andreas Egli), who was watching the match, who was assigned to Ashe, and the chair umpire, Aurelie Tourte, explained what happened.
What was explained to me was that after Novak Djokovic lost the point, he took a ball out of his pocket, hit it recklessly and angrily, at the back and hit the line umpire on the throat. The line umpire was clearly hurt and in pain, she went to the ground and we had to take care of her.
The facts were discussed or explained by the chair umpire and the grand slam supervisor. In this situation it’s especially important that we are 100 percent sure of exactly what happened, especially since I was in the referee’s office.
But the facts were established and then I had to talk to Novak Djokovic, gave him the chance also to state his point of view, and based on the facts that the ball was hit angrily, recklessly, that it went straight at the line umpire’s throat, the line umpire was clearly hurt and in pain, the decision was made that Novak had to be defaulted”.
The US Open referee also told the media that during their discussions, Novak Djokovic did admit that he was angry and that he hit the ball but had no intention of hitting the line umpire. Friemel also said that as per the rules, there is no video review in place at the US Open or the other Grand Slams for such instances.