World number one tennis star Novak Djokovic has just been disqualified from the US Open tennis tournament after what can only be described as a cosmically ill-timed hit which was sent straight into the throat of a line judge, causing said line judge to collapse.
Prior to this incident, Djokovic was on track to secure his 18th Grand Slam title. But clearly, both nerves and tensions were high. After losing a game to world number thirty Pablo Carreño Busta in the first set leading Djokovic to fall behind 6-5, the latter swatted at a ball in frustration during the changeover. And that’s exactly when the ball found some prime real estate on the unsuspecting lineswoman’s neck.
After a brief apology, there was an ensuing discussion. Djokovic pleaded his case to officials – “She doesn’t have to go to the hospital for this… You’re going to choose a default in this situation? My career, grand slam, center stage… You have a game penalty, set penalty, many options.” – Shortly after, the Serbian would make a definite exit.
As per the US Tennis Association‘s statement:
“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, the US Open tournament referee defaulted Novak Djokovic from the 2020 US Open. Because he was defaulted, Djokovic will lose all ranking points earned at the US Open and will be fined the prize money won at the tournament in addition to any or all fines levied with respect to the offending incident.”
Djokovic skipped the press and made a brief exit – which will reportedly incur yet another fine – and took to Instagram.
This occurrence is unfortunate on several levels for Djokovic. Aside from the obvious disqualification, the man has been facing something of a PR problem in recent times.
Painted as the villain in last year’s Wimbledon final to the point where his victory over Roger Federer was met with boos and jeers, Djokovic has never seemed to command the same amount of love and adoration from tennis fans like the rest of the “Big Three” (Federer, Nadal).
On top of that, in the year of COVID-19, Djokovic has not only reaffirmed his anti-vaccination stance but openly flouted social distancing measures to attend parties – parties that were well-documented by social media. It certainly doesn’t help that social media has just dug up the following video from 2016 for an informal cross-examination. Trial by Twitter certainly isn’t fun…
Sound off in the comments: should Novak Djokovic have been disqualified from the US Open for the tennis ball incident?