World number one Novak Djokovic was sensationally disqualified in the U.S. Open fourth round on Sunday in New York after striking a line judge with a ball.
This was after a point loss during the first set of his match against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.
Djokovic was becoming frustrated after failing to take the opening set.
After suffering a fall and having dropped serve to trail 5-6, he hit a ball reasonably hard to the back of the court, striking a female line judge.
He immediately apologised and stood over her before becoming involved in a lengthy exchange with the tournament referee.
Under the rules of the game there is no option other than a default.
In spite of Djokovic’s pleadings that he had not meant to hit the official, he was eventually disqualified.
Djokovic shook hands with a stunned Carreno Busta and trudged off to face the music.
It was an incredible end to the top seed’s hopes of winning an 18th Grand Slam title — something that had looked increasingly likely as the fortnight progressed.
“It’s the right decision,” Tim Henman, who was disqualified from Wimbledon for a similar incident in 1995, said.
“He was not aiming for the line judge, but has hit the ball away and you have to be responsible for your actions.”