After being kicked out of the US Open, the men's tennis world number one Novak Djokovic has pledged to use his latest setback to become a better player.
The Serb was given his marching orders by tournament organisers after he hit a line judge with a ball during his fourth round match against Pablo Carreno Busta at Flushing Meadows.
Djokovic's frustrations got the better of him after he dropped his serve to trail the Spaniard 6-5 in the opening set and while replays show that the incident looked to be an accident, the ball was hit firmly and made contact with the throat of the line judge who remained on the ground for several minutes.
Not long after his disqualification from the Grand Slam event, the 33-year-old posted an image on Instagram with an apology for his actions.
"This whole situation has left me really sad and empty," Djokovic wrote on his Instagram post.
"I checked on the lines person 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.
Oh my god, Djokovic got disqualified from the US Open.pic.twitter.com/yCo3Lqw0tg
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 6, 2020
"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 my fans for always being there with me. Thank you and I’m so sorry."
The US Tennis Association issued a statement to explain the decision to disqualify Djokovic and detailing the full extent of his punishment.
"In accordance with the Grand Slam rulebook, following his actions of intentionally 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 2020 US Open," the statement read.
"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."