The number one Novak Djokovic had faltered from his fourth round match in the US Open after accidentally bumping into a referee with a tennis ball.
It was an amazing end to Djokovic’s bid to win the 18th Grand Slam title and his 26-0 start this season.
Djokovic had just lost a match to his opponent, Pablo Carreno Busta, to trail 6-5 in the first set.
As he walked to the sideline for a change, Djokovic hit a ball behind him. The ball hit a female streak ruler, fell on her knees at the back of the field and reached her neck.
After a several-minute discussion with stadium officials, including tournament referee Soeren Friemel, Djokovic walked in to shake hands with Carino Busta. Then Chief Justice Aureli Turt declared the default.
It was clear that Djokovic had not intended to beat the written judge. There was anxiety written on his face as soon as he realized what had happened. However, the players who hit the ball out of rage and contacted an official on the field had defaulted in the past.
Djokovic’s mood has soured over the past few minutes. In the previous game, he had missed three straight break points and after the last, which Carino Busta won with a choppy shot, Djokovic hit a ball from a banner ad on the field.
Then, in the second point of what would become this year’s final US Open match for Djokovic, he faltered while chasing a shot and fell to the ground, grabbing his left shoulder.
Play was delayed by a few minutes while the coach checked the shoulder.
On the second point after their resumption, Carino Busta hit the pass to break Djokovic’s service. That’s when Djokovic got himself into trouble.
His passing means there is no man left on the field who previously won a singles title at Grand Slam. Whoever wins the tournament, he will be the first major cup winner in men’s tennis since 2014, when Marin Cilic won the US Open.