World number one Novak Djokovic released a statement following his stunning default from the US Open. The Serb was trailing 6-5 in the first set of his fourth round match against 20th seed Pablo Carreno Busta when he hit a ball out of frustration that struck a line judge in the throat.
Taking to his social media account, the world number one said the following: "This whole situation has left me really sad and empty. I checked on the linesperson and the tournament told me that thank god she is feeling OK. I'm extremely sorry to have caused her such stress.
"So unintended. So wrong. I'm not disclosing her name to respect her privacy. As for the disqualification, I need to go back within and work on my disappointment and turn this all into a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and human being.
"I apologize to the US Open tournament and everyone associated for my behavior. I'm very grateful to my team and family for being my rock support, and for my fans for always being there with me. Thank you and i'm so sorry."
Tournament officials explain decision to default world number one
Earlier, US Open officials released their own statement on the decision that reads as follows: "in accordance with the Grand Slam rulebook, following his intentions of hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences, the US Open tournament referee defaulted Novak Djokovic from the tournament.
"Because he was defaulted, Djokovic will lose all ranking points earned at the US Open and will be fined the prize money won at the tournament in addition to any or all fines levied with respect to the offending incident."
Referee gives detailed explanation on Djokovic ruling
Further clarification was made by tournament referee Soeren Friemel, who spoke to reporters and said "based on the facts that the ball was hit angrily, recklessly; that it went straight at the line umpire's throat; that the line umpire was hurt and clearly in pain, the decision was made that Novak [Djokovic) had to be defaulted.
"The facts were discussed and explained by the Chair Umpire and Grand Slam supervisor. In this situation, it is especially important that we are 100 percent sure what exactly happened. The facts were established and then I had to speak to Novak Djokovic, [to]g give him the chance to state his point of view.
"His point was that he didn't hit the line umpire intentionally.......We all agree that he did not do it on purpose, but the facts are still that he hit the line umpire, and that the line umpire was clearly hurt. [Under Section T of the rulebook], in all cases of default the decision of the referee in consultation with the Grand Slam Chief of Supervisors shall be final and unappealable.
"There was no other option", Friemel added. "Intent is part of the discussion, but there are two factors, one is the action and [the other] the result. The action, while there was no intent, the result of hitting the line umpire and [her' clearly being hurt is the essential factor in the decision making process here."