”Based on the fact that it was angrily, recklessly hit, and the line umpire was hurt clearly and in pain, he had to be defaulted.” Friemel said. “We all agree he didn’t do it on purpose, but he hit her, and she was hurt.”
Friemel said the discussion was lengthy with Djokovic because of the significance of the decision. “Defaulting a player at a Grand Slam is a very important, very tough decision,” Friemel said. “You need to get it right.”
During a warm-up tournament for the U.S. Open that was staged at the same site, Aljaz Bedene, a Slovenian player, inadvertently hit a cameraman with a ball that he tapped in frustration and received a warning but was not defaulted because the cameraman immediately made it clear that he had suffered no injury.
Carreño Busta, who is the 20th seed and from Spain, advanced to the quarterfinals with the default. Djokovic left the stadium without speaking to news reporters.
“If it would have landed anywhere else, we’re talking about a few inches, he would have been fine,” said Alexander Zverev, a German player who was watching inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
In a statement, the United States Tennis Association said that because of the default Djokovic would be fined the prize money he would have earned in addition to any fines that will be levied because of the incident. He faces a fine of up to $20,000 for skipping his mandatory post-match news conference.
Djokovic, 33, has won five of the last seven Grand Slam singles titles and had dropped just one set in his first three matches at the U.S. Open. But the first set against Carreño Busta was a tight affair, and Djokovic was testy. At one stage earlier in the set, he smashed a ball in frustration toward the side of the court, hitting no one.