Novak Djokovic has issued an apology after he was disqualified from the US Open, revealing the incident has left him “sad and empty”.
The world number one was defaulted after he unintentionally hit a linesperson with a ball during his fourth-round match with Pablo Carreno Busta, who now progresses to the US Open quarter-finals.
Djokovic, who was the favourite to win the tournament, squandered three set points, before being broken to move 5-6 behind, subsequently taking a ball out of his pocket and unintentionally firing in the direction of the linesperson in frustration.
The Serb was visibly and immediately apologetic, racing over to check on the health of the linesperson, who swiftly left the court in some distress.
After a lengthy discussion, Djokovic departed the court after being informed of his disqualification, where he subsequently left the grounds without attending his post-match press conference.
Djokovic has now commented on the incident, however, revealing he has since checked on the linesperson once more.
“This whole situation has left me really sad and empty,” Djokovic wrote on Instagram. “I checked on the linesperson 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.”
Djokovic’s apology came after the US Open released a statement to explain the decision, revealing the 33-year-old will be fined all of the prize money won in this year’s tournament.
It 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.”