'Deja vu': Novak Djokovic hits line judge in face at French Open

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·5-min read
Novak Djokovic, pictured here accidentally hitting a line judge at the French Open.
Novak Djokovic accidentally hit a line judge in the face at the French Open. Image: Eurosport/Getty

Novak Djokovic admitted to suffering an “awkward moment of deja vu” after accidentally hitting a second line judge with a ball at the French Open.

The World No.1 earned a record-breaking 11th consecutive quarter-final appearance at the French Open with a 6-4 6-3 6-3 victory against Karen Khachanov on Monday.

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Djokovic, who is aiming for a second Roland Garros title since 2016, secured the win in 2 hours 26 minutes under the roof of Court Philippe Chatrier as heavy rain poured down in Paris.

However the match wasn’t without incident, with Djokovic inadvertently smashing a line judge in the face with a ball in a scary moment that brought back memories of his US Open default.

Djokovic had a heart-in-the-mouth moment when he stretched for a forehand in the first set and the ball flew off the frame of his racquet before spearing into the unsuspecting baseline judge sitting nearby.

The Serb immediately went to the official to check he was unhurt.

The incident came just weeks after Djokovic was defaulted at the US Open for swiping angrily at a ball which hit a female line judge, standing just behind him, in the throat.

That disqualification remains the only defeat Djokovic has suffered all year.

“My gosh, it was very awkward deja vu,” Djokovic said after the match.

“I’m actually trying to find the linesperson and see if he’s okay because I saw he had a little bit of a bruise, like redness, in that place in the head where the ball hit him.

“I hope he's fine. I mean, he definitely dealt with it in a very strong and brave way. But it was a hit because I was very close.

“Obviously because of what happened in New York, people I guess are going to make the story out of this.

“It has happened to me and to many other players in the last 15 years that I've been on the tour.

“I've seen it a lot when the ball ricochets from the racquet and the frame, hits someone in the stands, or someone that is close to you or line umpire. Yeah, it was a very awkward situation.”

Novak Djokovic, pictured here celebrating his victory over Karen Kachanov at the French Open.
Novak Djokovic celebrates his victory over Karen Kachanov at the French Open. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

Last week Djokovic called for the removal of line judges from matches, saying it made more sense to rely solely on technology.

“With all my respect for the tradition and the culture we have in this sport, when it comes to people present on the court during a match, including line (judges), I really don't see a reason why every single tournament in this world, in this technological advanced era, would not have what we had during the Cincinnati/New York tournaments,” he said.

“The technology is so advanced right now, there is absolutely no reason why you should keep line umpires on the court. That's my opinion.

“Of course, I understand technology is expensive, so it's an economic issue and a question mark. But I feel like we are all moving towards that, and sooner or later there is no reason to keep line umpires.

“Yes, ball kids, of course, ball person, yes, but line umpires, I don't see why anymore, to be honest,” he said before adding with a smile “I would also probably then have less chances to do what I did in New York.”

Novak Djokovic continues perfect campaign

Djokovic rallied to the first break for a slender 5-3 lead and Khachanov dropped the first set after a double-fault.

The 17-time grand slam champion created a 4-1 deficit en route to a two frame advantage and was handed another early break in the third.

Khachnaov folded again to trail 5-3 and Djokovic secured a record last eight appearance at Roland Garros with a forehand winner.

Djokovic, who hit 44 winners past 15th-seeded Khachanov on Monday, has yet to drop a set in the tournament, losing just 25 games in four rounds.

“It was a tight match and I am happy to win in straight sets,” said the top seed who has now reached 47 quarter-finals at the slams and is bidding to become the first man in half a century to win all four majors twice.

Earlier, Greece’s Stefanos Tsitipas, seeded fifth, advanced as he battled past Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 7-6 (11-9) 6-2 in an enthralling 2:26 hours match.

Tsitsipas moves into a quarter-final against 13th seeded Andrey Rublev - a 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-4 7-6 (7-3) winner over Hungary's Marton Fucsovics - in a rematch of last week's Hamburg final won by the Russian.

“Both of us had tough, tough week in Hamburg, tough final,” said Rublev.

“I hope it's going to be interesting.”

with agencies

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