New York: Top seed and world No.1 Novak Djokovic has been booted out of the US Open after hitting an official with a tennis ball.
Djokovic was 5-6 down with 20th seed Pablo Carreno Busta serving in their fourth-round match when the Serb hit a ball behind him after a call went against him.
As he walked to the sideline for the changeover, Djokovic smacked a ball behind him. The ball hit a female line judge, who dropped to her knees at the back of the court.
After a discussion of several minutes with officials on court, Djokovic walked over to shake hands with Carreno Busta, and the default was announced.
It was a stunning end to Djokovic’s bid for an 18th grand slam title and his 26-0 start to this season.
The three-time winner was the clear favourite at Flushing Meadows in the absence of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Jordan Thompson and Alex De Minaur ensured two Australian men will be in the fourth round of a tournament now guaranteed to have a first-time grand slam winner.
“It’s very unfortunate that he hit a line judge and especially where it hit it,” said Alexander Zverev of Germany, who stands to be one of the major beneficiaries of a now-wide-open draw.
“There is a rule in place for it. I think the supervisors are just doing their job but very unlucky for Novak, I think he’s going to be a little bit upset about it. If you would have hit it anywhere else, if it would have landed anywhere else – we were talking about a few inches – he would have been fine so very unlucky.”
The 23-year-old fifth seed slammed down 18 aces en route to demolishing Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.
After an early break for the 2-1 lead, Zverev never let his Spanish opponent get a foothold in the match. He produced 39 winners and dropped just one service game during a ruthless performance.
Davidovich Fokina grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second set but the advantage was shortlived as Zverev broke back before racing away with the set. He sealed it with an ace.
The Spaniard barely had a chance to make an impact on the world number seven’s serve, the fastest clocking at 223 km/h, just shy of his personal record of 228.5 km/h.
Davidovich Fokina, who took a medical time out to treat a foot problem, tried to rattle Zverev by attempting some drop shots but the fleet-footed fifth seed moved nimbly around the court.
“I’m in the quarter-finals and that can only be a good thing,” said Zverev, who reached the Australian Open semi-finals earlier this year.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for six months.”
Thompson was scheduled to face 27th seed Borna Coric on Louis Armstrong Stadium from 7am Monday AEST.
with AP, Reuters
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