Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 September 2020

Novak Djokovic pleads with fans to refrain from abusing US Open line judge he hit with ball

World No 1 was thrown out of the tournament after hitting a ball towards the back of court that struck female official in the neck

Novak Djokovic has urged his supporters to show compassion for the line judge he struck in the throat with a ball at the US Open after the female official faced a backlash from fans on social media.

The Serb was disqualified in the fourth round after he hit a ball to the back of the court in frustration after dropping serve in the first set against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta, knocking the official to the floor.

Fans of the world No 1 took to social media to hurl abuse at the official after Serbian media carried her Instagram username.

"Shame on you. Old lady full of evil," read one of the messages left on her Instagram account, while other users accused her of faking the injury and "bad acting".

Djokovic was quick to defend the official on his official Twitter account on Tuesday, saying she had "done nothing wrong", while thanking fans who had left him positive messages of support.

"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."

With the line judge screaming out in pain as she fell to the ground, a horrified Djokovic ran over to her and apologised.

A tournament spokesman told Reuters later that the line judge appeared to be OK and was not brought off-site.

Tournament referee Soeren Friemel came out on to the Arthur Ashe Stadium and spoke to chair umpire Aurelie Tourte and Andreas Egli, the Grand Slam supervisor, before a long chat with the three-time former US Open winner.

Djokovic pleaded his case for 12 minutes but the Grand Slam rules are clear, and his fate was already sealed.

Updated: September 8, 2020 09:50 AM

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