The World No.1 was defaulted during the first set of his fourth-round match with Pablo Carreno Busta on Sunday after hitting the line judge with a ball in frustration.
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After losing a game to go down 6-5 in the set, Djokovic turned and hit the ball in anger, inadvertently hitting the official in the throat.
While the line judge escaped injury, she hasn’t escaped the wrath of Djokovic’s angry fans, with many accusing her of overreacting.
However she’s also been bombarded with sickening messages on social media, with trolls flooding her Instagram photos with horrible comments.
Some of the comments even referenced the line judge’s late son, who died in a motorcycle accident in 2008.
“Don’t worry you’ll join him soon,” one troll wrote on a photo of the official’s son, which she had previously posted in tribute to him.
The line judge has now deleted her social media accounts, and Djokovic has also taken action.
“Dear #NoleFam thank you for your positive messages,” he tweeted on Monday.
“Please also remember the linesperson that was hit by the ball last night needs our community’s support too.
“She’s done nothing wrong at all. I ask you to stay especially supportive and caring to her during this time.
“From these moments, we grow stronger and we rise above. Sharing love with everyone. Europe here I come.”
From these moments, we grow stronger and we rise above. Sharing love with everyone. Europe here I come ✈️ (2/2)— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) September 7, 2020
A number of fans and commentators were also quick to condemn those targeting the line judge.
“LET ME SAY THIS LOUDLY! Anyone who blames the lines lady for the default of Novak..... STOP!,” Aussie champion Rennae Stubbs wrote on Twitter.
“The lady had NOTHING to do with the default! Repeat! Nothing!!! Ok!!!! ITS A RULE! There was NOOOOO WIGGLE ROOM ON THIS! NONE.”
New York Times tennis writer Ben Rothenberg also slammed the treatment of the official.
“I have zero tolerance for anyone critiquing the reaction of the woman who got hit squarely in the throat by a tennis ball moving at decent speed off the racquet of a pro player. Grow a heart,” he wrote.
LET ME SAY THIS LOUDLY! Anyone who blames the lines lady for the default of Novak..... STOP! The lady had NOTHING to do with the default! Repeat! Nothing!!! Ok!!!! ITS A RULE! There was NOOOOO WIGGLE ROOM ON THIS! NONE!!— Rennae Stubbs (@rennaestubbs) September 7, 2020
Folks, I’m have zero tolerance for anyone critiquing the reaction of the woman who got hit squarely in the throat by a tennis ball moving at decent speed off the racquet of a pro player. Grow a heart. https://t.co/dN6xmEXTxf— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) September 7, 2020
What would possess anyone to send abuse to a line-judge because her day of work ended with her being hit in the throat by a tennis ball?— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) September 7, 2020
Comments in this video are absolutely disgusting. Lineswoman fell to ground and had difficulty in breathing after being hit by tennis ball on her throat and people are making fun and judging that she is over reacting.https://t.co/TuBBF9CPnk— Amarendra Bandla (@ambandla) September 7, 2020
Get hit in the throat only softly and I promise you, you‘ll go down. This victim blaming is shameful and disgusting. That is not some person who randomly stands there but a line judge with decades of experience who will have been hit before.— Eve Lambert (@EveLambertBooks) September 6, 2020
I think it’s absolutely disgusting that people are blaming the line judge and accusing her of overacting. Just unbelievable.— Helen Aqua (@HelenAqua) September 7, 2020
Since some people released the lineswoman’s IG i just checked comments on her first picture. This is scary. These are just some of the comments. pic.twitter.com/s6aFP5YiWD— Nawal (@NawalNadal) September 7, 2020
Djokovic cops $10,000 fine for conduct
Djokovic has since been fined $US10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.
That amount is half the $US20,000 that a player can be docked for violating the unsportsmanlike conduct clause of the grand slam rule book.
The $US10,000 is in addition to the $US250,000 in prize money the US Tennis Association said the world No.1 would forfeit after being disqualified in the first set of his fourth-round match on Sunday.
Djokovic, who failed to front the media after the default, later posted an apology on social media.
“This whole situation has left me really sad and empty,” he wrote, adding that “thank God” the woman was okay.
“I'm extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong,” Djokovic said.
He also apologised to tournament organisers for “my behaviour” but did not say whether he thought they were right to default him.
The United States Tennis Association said Djokovic had been defaulted under the grand slam rules for “intentionally hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences.”