The Serbian star accidentally hit a lineswoman with the ball during his fourth round match.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has been disqualified from the US Open in bizarre circumstances, after accidentally hitting a lineswoman with the ball. The Serbian, who was on course to win an 18th Grand Slam in his career, came up against Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in the fourth round of the tournament when the freak incident happened.

Djokovic was trailing Busta 6-5 in the first set and angrily smacked the ball, which hit the lineswoman’s throat and she was down on her knees. However, he was quick to react and immediately apologized, but chair umpire Aurelie Tourte, tournament referee Soeren Friemel and Grand Slam supervisor Andreas Egli decided to disqualify the Serb and hand victory to Busta.

A clip of the incident during the match

The footage clearly shows that Djokovic did not hit the ball purposefully and was seen explaining his case to the chair umpire, but unfortunately was disqualified by default. He shook hands with Carreno and left without speaking to the media. With this loss, Djokovic’s 29-match unbeaten run also came to an end.

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“I was a little bit in shock, no?” Carreno Busta said later at a press conference done via video conference. Asked whether Djokovic should have been allowed to continue to play, the Spaniard answered “Well, the rules are the rules…. The referee and the supervisor (did) the right thing, but it’s not easy to do it.”

Novak Djokovic left a sorry note on his social media after the incident

The US Tennis Association issued a statement on the incident which read, “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.”

The USTA went on to add that Djokovic forfeits the ranking points and $250,000 in prize money he earned in the tournament — “in addition to any or all fines levied with respect to the offending incident.”

Later, Djokovic himself posted an apology on his instagram handle, where he said, “As for the disqualification, I need to go back within and work on my disappointment and turn this all into a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and human being.”