Novak Djokovic tried in vain for 12 minutes to plead his case and avoid disqualification from the US Open by arguing he hit the line judge with the ball by accident.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner was booted out of the competition at the fourth round stage after striking the unassuming female umpire in the neck as he hit the ball away in anger.
Replays showed Djokovic seemed to be unaware of the position of the line judge and immediately went over to apologise and check she was ok.
Nevertheless his efforts mattered little as referee Soeren Friemel and supervisor Andreas Egli rejected his appeal and called an end to the Serb’s tie with Pablo Carreno Busta in the opening set.
Friemel said: “His point was that he didn’t hit the line umpire intentionally. He said yes, I was angry, I hit the ball, I hit the line umpire, the facts are very clear, but it wasn’t my intent, I didn’t do it on purpose, so I shouldn’t be defaulted for that.
“We all agreed that he didn’t do it on purpose but the facts are still that he hit the line umpire and that the line umpire was clearly hurt.
“Intent is part of the discussion but there are two factors, one is the action, and the result. And the action, why there was no intent, the result of hitting the line umpire and clearly being hurt is the essential factor in the decision-making process here.
“We wouldn’t even, I don’t think we would have had this long-ish discussion if he had done it on purpose, but here both factors are taken into consideration.”
Djokovic issued a public apology after the incident and a statement from USTA confirmed he had been defaulted for “intentionally hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard.”
He will also lose any winnings already obtained from the tournament by way of a fine as well as any ranking points achieved.
The 33-year-old said on social media: “This whole situation has left me really sad and empty.
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“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.
“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.”
He added: “I apologize to the @usopen 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.”