Pablo Carreno Busta has just returned to the quarter-finals of the US Open in the most remarkable fashion after Novak Djokovic was defaulted for hitting a ball at a line judge.
Carreno Busta, the world No. 27 from Spain, had just broken Djokovic and earned himself the chance to serve for the first set.
That, in itself, would have been a surprise. But what followed was truly remarkable.
Djokovic hit a ball in disgust towards the back of the court. It hit a line judge in the throat.
Regardless of intent, and a long conversation with officials, he had to be defaulted, bringing his 26-match winning streak to a bitter, extraordinary end.
Carreno Busta did not rejoice in his unlikely victory and admitted he felt sorry for the top seed but added ‘the rules are the rules’.
‘No, of course I think this was not intentional,’ said Carreno Busta. ‘I don’t think that any one of us, of the players, does this kind of thing intentionally, you know.
‘It’s just the moment. It’s just I broke him the serve, and, you know, he throw the ball.
‘I think that it was bad luck, no? You cannot do this, but of course I think that Novak never, never wants to hit the line umpire.
‘The rules are the rules. The referee and the supervisor do the right thing, but is not easy to do it, no?’
‘I didn’t see it. I told you before I was looking to my coach, celebrating the break. And when I turn back, I just watch the line umpire on the floor.
‘Of course I was in shock, because I never expect this moment, no? I was very focused on do my game and play the match. Well, in this moment, I was in shock.
‘Well, I just tried to be calm, because I don’t know what is going to happen, you know, if we can continue or if we finish the match. Finally we finish, and I continue really in shock.’
Carreno Busta reached the semi-finals in New York in 2017 and he will have a chance to repeat that feat when he faces either Denis Shapovalov or David Goffin in the quarter-finals.
A statement from the tournament 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.
‘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.’
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