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Is Tennis still a ‘Gentleman’s sport’ ?

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Novak Djokovic’s default from the US Open is perhaps the most costly one in tennis history after hitting a line judge in the neck in frustration at Flushing Meadows.

The default resulted in Djokovic unable to defend his US open title who was aiming to win his 17th career Grand Slam.

Djokovic has exited the 2020 US Open in bizarre fashion.

It fell under the Grand Slam rule book’s definition of “physical abuse,” which states that players “shall not at any time physically abuse any official, opponent, spectator or other person within the precincts of the tournament site.”

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The rules subject a player to a fine of up to $20,000 for each violation of this rule, with the possibility of escalation if it is deemed a “major offense.” Djokovic was also denied his tournament earnings and ranking points.

“In circumstances that are flagrant and particularly injurious to the success of a tournament, or are singularly egregious, a single violation of this section shall also constitute the major offense of ‘Aggravated Behavior’ and shall be subject to the additional penalties hereinafter set forth”

Djokovic’s exit leaves the tournament without any men who have previously won a Grand Slam title. There will be a first-time Grand Slam singles champion in men’s tennis for the first time since Cilic at the 2014 U.S. Open.

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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 apologize to the @usopen tournament and everyone associated for my behavior. 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. Cela ova situacija me čini zaista tužnim i praznim. Proverio sam kako se oseća linijski sudija, i prema informacijama koje sam dobio, oseća se dobro, hvala Bogu. Njeno ime ne mogu da otkrijem zbog očuvanja njene privatnosti. Jako mi je žao što sam joj naneo takav stres. Nije bilo namerno. Bilo je pogrešno. Želim da ovo neprijatno iskustvo, diskvalifikaciju sa turnira, pretvorim u važnu životnu lekciju, kako bih nastavio da rastem i razvijam se kao čovek, ali i teniser. Izvinjavam se organizatorima US Opena. Veoma sam zahvalan svom timu i porodici što mi pružaju snažnu podršku, kao i mojim navijačima jer su uvek uz mene. Hvala vam i žao mi je. Bio je ovo težak dan za sve.

A post shared by Novak Djokovic (@djokernole) on

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Djokovic has had his outbursts of anger in the past, as well. In a 2016 French Open quarter-final against Tomas Berdych, Djokovic’s racquet very nearly hit a line judge having slipped out of his hands. Later that year, in a match against Dominic Thiem at the ATP Finals, he fired a ball towards his coaching team, who were sitting in a row immediately in front of spectators.

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Here a few instances of players being disqualified or penalised for similar offences :

Dennis Shapovalov

NextGen star Denis Shapovalov was disqualified during Canada’s Davis Cup encounter against Great Britain in 2017.

Just 17 years old back then, Shapovalov tossed the ball away in anger after getting broken in the third set by Kyle Edmund. The ball was directed at the chair umpire who was hit on the face.

Canada lost the tie 3-2 to Great Britain after Shapovalov was defaulted.

The young Canadian realised his mistake and immediately went to apologise. However, he was disqualified from the encounter before the umpire went on to receive medical treatment.

The Davis Cup tie was all square at 2-2 but Shapovalov’s default gave the match to Great Britain.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams had held the distinction of being the highest seed to be knocked out in such fashion. Williams was a No. 2 seed at the 2009 U.S. Open when she was hit with a point penalty for threatening a line judge following a foot fault in her semifinal against Kim Clijsters. The penalty came on match point to complete Clijsters’ 6-4, 7-5 victory.

Serena had a lengthy argument with the umpire after being penalised in the 2018 US Open final.

In 2018, Serena Williams  accused an umpire of sexism and treating her more harshly than men after an on-court tirade at the official during her US Open final defeat to Japan’s Naomi Osaka in 2018 . Williams was cited by official Carlos Ramos for three code violations during her 6-2, 6-4 loss to rising star Osaka.

Williams had a similar offence in 2012 at Flushing Meadows.

David Nalbandian

David Nalbandian was disqualified from the Aegon Championships final in 2012 after injuring a line judge by kicking an advertising board into his shin.


“I know that I made a mistake, 100%. If I have to pay for what I did, it’s perfect, I agree. I made a mistake and I apologize and I feel very sorry for the guy. I didn’t want to do that.”

The Argentinian continued his run during a point before angrily booting the board, which broke apart and badly gashed the umpire’s left leg.

He received immediate treatment from St John’s Ambulance and saw the tournament medical team, but no further treatment was required. 

Marin Cilic was declared the winner of the tennis tournament in bizarre fashion immediately after his opponent was defaulted.


Novak Djokovic faces US Open exit after hitting line judge with ball

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