Novak Djokovic‘s has been fined an additional $10,000 (£7,600) for ‘unsportsmanlike behaviour’ following his dramatic disqualification from the US Open on Sunday night.
Djokovic, who has already been stripped of his $250,000 (£190,000) in prize money for reaching the last-16, was given a further punishment by tournament organisers for his actions on court against Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta.
He could yet face a further fine for his decision to skip media duties following his default.
The world No 1 was broken for 5-6 in the opening set and petulantly swiped a ball away that struck a female line judge, Laura Clark, in the throat.
Novak Djokovic was handed a $10,000 fine for ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’ at the US Open
Djokovic struck a ball to the back of the court and it accidentally hit the throat of line judge Laura Clark. The world No 1 immediately realised his mistake and tended to the injured Clark
The World No 1 hits the ball behind in frustration, striking the line judge at the back of the court
Djokovic pleaded his case for leniency to tournament officials but referee Soeren Friemel, who was summoned onto court inside the deserted Arthur Ashe Stadium by umpire Aurelie Tourte, told Djokovic, after plenty of debate, that there was no option but to disqualify him.
After Djokovic left the Flushing Meadows facility and refused to take part in his press commitments, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) released a statement on his default.
‘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,’ it began.
Djokovic was then frustrated and fired a ball behind which struck the lineswoman in the throat
He looked to plead his case to tournament officials but was disqualified and later fined
‘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 eventually went on to address the matter himself with a statement on his social media.
He wrote: ‘This whole situation has left me really sad and empty. I checked on the lines person and the tournament told me that thank God she is feeling ok.
‘I’m extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong. I’m not disclosing her name to respect her privacy. 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.
‘I apologise to the US Open tournament and everyone associated for my behaviour. I’m very grateful to my team and family for being my rock support, and my fans for always being there with me. Thank you and I’m so sorry.’
He collected his things before walking off in one of the stand-out sporting moments of 2020
In an apology posted to Instagram, Djokovic said the situation left him feeling ‘sad and empty’
Djokovic, who was attempting to go unbeaten on the court in 2020, looked to be the firm favourite for the Slam with neither Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer competing.
But the 33-year-old let emotions get the better of him and he left officials with no choice but to disqualify him.
This was arguably the most dramatic disqualification since British umpire Gerry Armstrong, now the Wimbledon Referee, booted John McEnroe from the Australian Open 1990 for verbal abuse.
McEnroe also criticised Djokovic on Sunday night for leaving the grounds without a press conference, telling him he should ‘man up’ and apologise in person rather than on Instagram.
‘He’s got a lot of things going for him, but this is a stain that he’s not going to be able to erase,’ said McEnroe, who was known for his own volatile behaviour on the court.
Asked whether he thought Djokovic should have been allowed to continue to play, Carreno Busta shrugged and replied: ‘Well, the rules are the rules. … The referee and the supervisor (did) the right thing, but it’s not easy to do it.’
A clip from 2016 has emerged showing Djokovic brushing off concerns over his conduct
John McEnroe (left) was critical of Djokovic for leaving the grounds before facing the media
It comes four years after Novak Djokovic bullishly dismissed concerns over his on-court frustrations in an angry exchange with a reporter.
The Serbian had hit a ball into the crowd during his three-set win over Dominic Thiem. Months earlier he nearly hit an official after throwing his racket in the French Open and he was asked if he feared his behaviour would one day ‘cost him dearly’.
He laughed off his question and said: ‘You guys are unbelievable. You’re always picking these kind of things.’
When informed he could have seriously hurt a spectator, he replied: ‘It could have been, yes. It could have snowed in O2 arena, as well, but it didn’t.
‘I’m the only player that shows his frustration on the court? That’s what you are saying? It is not an issue for me. It’s not the first time I did it.’