US OPEN tournament referee Soeren Friemel has defended the decision to boot out Novak Djokovic on Sunday night.

The frustrated world No.1 was sensationally defaulted for hitting the ball at the throat of a line judge after being broken in the first set of the last-16 clash against Pablo Carreno Busta on the Arthur Ashe stadium court.

Though he did not intend to hurt anyone and it was a complete accident, the rulebook states: “Players shall not at any times physically abuse any official, opponent, spectator or other person within the precincts of the tournament site."

It adds: “Physical abuse is the unauthorised touching of an official, opponent, spectator or other person.”

Friemel said: “What was explained to me was that after Novak Djokovic lost the point, he took a ball out of his pocket, hit it recklessly and angrily, at the back and hit the line umpire on the throat.

“The line umpire was clearly hurt and in pain, she went to the ground and we had to take care of her.

“The facts were discussed or explained by the chair umpire and the grand slam supervisor.

“In this situation it’s especially important that we are 100 per cent sure of exactly what happened, especially since I was in the referee’s office.

“But the facts were established and then I had to talk to Novak Djokovic.

"I gave him the chance also to state his point of view, and based on the facts that the ball was hit angrily, recklessly, that it went straight at the line umpire’s throat, the line umpire was clearly hurt and in pain, the decision was made that Novak had to be defaulted.”


Djokovic – the man tennis fans love to hate – has lost his first match of 2020 and means he cannot achieve the calendar Grand Slam, having won the Australian Open in February.

The Serbian, 33, will be fined his £189,000 prize money for reaching the fourth round.

And there will be a new US Open winner on the trophy come Sunday evening which could have major implications for the rankings come the end of the year.

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