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Novak Djokovic's ouster from U.S. Open was inevitable, Vasek Popisil says

Novak Djokovic talks with the umpire after inadvertently

Novak Djokovic talks with the umpire after inadvertently hitting a line judge with a ball after hitting it in reaction to losing a point against Pablo Carreno Busta during the fourth round of the U.S. Open on Sunday in Flushing Meadows. Credit: AP/Seth Wenig

Novak Djokovic’s ouster from the U.S. Open on Sunday after inadvertently striking a line judge in the throat with errant ball was inevitable, said his friend and fellow player Vasek Popisil.  

But more so, it was sad.

“Just very sad, very sad for tennis, sad for the tournament, very sad for Novak, for the lines lady,” Popisil said on Monday, dealing with his own disappointment after being beaten by Alex de Minaur in Round 4, 1-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-2.  

“ A really unfortunate incident,” Popisil said.  “Obviously he didn’t mean to hit the lines lady but the outcome was pretty much sealed when it happened, especially he hit her in the area, I think, in the throat. Luckily she’s okay.”

Last week during the Western & Southern Open, a tournament normally played in Cincinnati but moved to the National Tennis Center to precede the Open, Popisil and Djokovic announced the formation of the Professional Tennis Players Association, an organization that they did not exactly describe as a union. Popisil did not think the incident would create problem for the fledgling association.

“The incident last night shouldn’t have any impact because it was a full accident. It’s an unrelated topic all together,” Popisil said.  “Lost his cool at the end of the set. We saw what happened. I don’t think that will affect anything to be honest.”

According to a tennis source the injured line judge is Laura Clark of Owensboro, Kentucky. She has been a regular caller of lines on the feature courts during the Open.

The Open posted an additional $10,000 fine for Djokovic for unsportsmanlike conduct, that goes along with forfeiting the $250,000 prize money for his fourth round finish and the ranking points that had been accumulated during the tournament.

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