The Serb just broke the score 6-5 in the first set against the Spanish Pablo Carreno Basta when he hit a ball behind him on the field. Djokovic would not target anyone, but hit the referee – seemingly close to the face – and fell to the ground.
The chief referee, Aurelie Tourte and Djokovic, went to check on her before being brought to court by tournament referee Soeren Friemel and supervisor Andreas Egli.
Djokovic then had an extensive conversation with Fremel before formally failing. He left the tournament without speaking to the media.
In fact, according to the rules, the default would be the only result even if the intention was not there by Djokovic, although Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene was not disqualified last week at the Western & Southern Open when he hit a ball and that hit a cameraman.
“Players will never misbehave against any official, opponent, spectator or other person within the tournament grounds,” according to the Grand Slam rule book.
Djokovic had no appeal as the Grand Slam rules book states that “in all cases of default, the referee’s decision in consultation with the head of the Grand Slam supervisors will be final and unpretentious.”
Moments earlier, he had hit a ball with frustration when he could not convert three sets to 5-4. He did not receive a ball abuse warning. Then he fell in the 11th game, he seems to injure his shoulder.
The coach went out to visit the 17-time Grand Slam winner in the middle of the game before Djokovic returned to the field.
In the past, Djokovic has received warnings of ball abuse and was asked about his conduct in court at press conferences.
Tennis defaults, especially in the Grand Slams, are extremely rare. Former Wimbledon semifinalist Tim Henman broke down when he hit a ball and hit a girl with a ball at Wimbledon in 1995.
John McEnroe failed for several offenses – not one, as in the case of Djokovic – in a match at the Australian Open in 1990.
At a 2012 ATP tournament in London, David Nalbandian did not concede the final when he kicked a billboard that then fell to a judge.
Dennis Sapovalov, who faces David Goffin during tonight’s Open session, was disqualified when he hit a referee in the eye with a ball in the 2017 Davis Cup.