Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic was spectacularly booted from the US Open on Monday morning after accidentally smacking a linesperson in the throat with a ball.

Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked men’s tennis player, was down 5-6 to Spain’s Pablo Carreño Busta in the first set when he pinged a ball to his baseline in frustration.

Instead of bouncing off the wall, the ball instead bounced off a linesperson’s neck.

She fell to the ground, bringing the game to a halt.

Djokovic was immediately apologetic and walked to the woman’s side to render assistance.

She soon walked off the court, but the deed was done: tournament rules specifically ban the “unauthorised touching of an official, opponent, spectator, or other person” during play, and forbid players from recklessly pinging balls around the place.

Here’s what officials had to say:

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USTA Statement on Default of Novak Djokovic

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Djokovic’s default brings the 33-year-old’s unbeaten 2020 to an end, and busts the US Open draw wide open.

For the first time since 2014, the men’s singles side of the tournament is now guaranteed to have a new winner. Absolute scenes if Carreño Busta takes this one.

It’s been a contentious year for Djokovic, and with this ignominious booting, it’s only getting weirder.

Image: Peter Staples / ATP Tour / Getty Images