The overwhelming US Open favorite Novak Djokovic was stunningly defaulted from his fourth-round match vs. Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta on Sunday after striking a lineswoman in the neck with a ball hit in frustration.
The incident occurred late in the first set trailing 6-5.
Djokovic, who was 29-0 this year and the US Open No. 1 seed, spoke calmly with the tournament referees for ten minutes to explain the situation. It did not appear Djokovic did it with malice – just frustration after Carreno Busta passed him to take the lead.
Djokovic, 33, did not appear upset with the lineswoman.
Djokovic blindly hit the ball to the back wall, striking the woman, who stayed down from a few minutes before being removed. Djokovic reacted with stunned concern after the ball struck her and went directly over to her. It did not appear the officials looked at the replays.
Djokovic had hit a ball in anger earlier in the set. It was a stunning end to his bid to post an undefeated season. The Open is already missing Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Djokovic injured his shoulder in a fall earlier in the set.
The disqualification cited is “abuse of ball” when it is struck with “negligent disregard for consequences.’’