Year in Review 2020, Biggest Sports Stories: Novak Djokovic hits line judge, disqualified from US Open

In a year where Novak Djokovic started brilliantly on the court and finishes as World No 1, he also made numerous mistakes, most notably at US Open.

FP Sports December 30, 2020 17:44:49 IST
Year in Review 2020, Biggest Sports Stories: Novak Djokovic hits line judge, disqualified from US Open

Novak Djokovic checks on the lineswoman after catching her on the throat with a ball. AP

Editor's Note: It's that time of the year already. Every end comes with an opportunity to look back and reflect, and while 2020, by general consensus, was a forgettable affair, sports did manage to conjure some moments of lasting relevance. From Liverpool ending their Premier League title wait to the mighty Indian cricket team crashing like never before in Adelaide to the passing away of some of sports' all-time greats, the field of play, even in a truncated calendar, produced a fair share of shock, surprise, and awe. In Firstpost's latest series, we take a look at some of the biggest sporting moments of 2020.

Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open in 2020. Reached the final of French Open where he met Rafael Nadal (and we know how that story usually goes). At the start of the year, he led Serbia to the title in inaugural ATP Cup and won in Dubai.

Yet his most memorable shot of the year came in the first set of the fourth round of US Open when the ball wasn't even in play.

An overwhelming favourite to win the slam in the absence of multiple challengers, the Serb was up against Pablo Carreno Busta. Broken at 5-6, Djokovic hit the ball towards the back of the court in frustration and accidentally caught a lineswoman in the throat. The surprise impact led to her going down in pain. Novak turned around and rushed to her side.

But the damage was done. Discussion between the officials, Djokovic and tournament referee Soeren Friemel ensued but it was a foregone conclusion. Djokovic, the World No. 1, the top seed, was disqualified from the US Open. His first defeat of the coronavirus -affected season had come in the form of a default. It was the first time a top ranked player had been defaulted at a major.

The absence of crowd possibly didn't give it a bigger spectacle than what it was. The commentators and fans online were equally surprised with what had happened. Some defended his act of hitting the ball back and argued it was an honest back.

Djokovic's decision to walk out of Billie Jean King Tennis Center, bags in tow, head bowed, with a car waiting, didn't help his image. He opted not to talk to the press which is mandatory for players at majors.

He later apologised on social media: "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."

In a year where Djokovic won multiple big ticket tournaments and raised funds for lower-ranked players, he tested COVID-19 positive; hosted Adria Tour exhibition event where safety protocols were flouted; resigned from the ATP Player Council and started Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) which doesn't have an aim thus far; made unscientific claims on social media and then shanked a ball at a lines judge to be sent packing. Some season this for Djokovic!

Click here for more stories in 'Year in Review 2020' series

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