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US Open line judge hit with ball by Novak Djokovic suffers death threats

Web report (with inputs from Reuters)/Dubai
Filed on September 8, 2020 | Last updated on September 8, 2020 at 06.36 am
us open, line, judge, laura clark, abuse, social media, Instagram, novak Djokovic, us open

(Reuters)

Trolls reportedly spam Laura Clark's Instagram account and taunt her over death of son in motorcycle accident in 2008.

The US Open line judge hit in the throat with a ball by world number one Novak Djokovic has been subjected to sickening abuse and even death threats on social media, it emerged on Monday.

Trolls have bombarded the Instagram account of Laura Clark, who was on Monday identified by Britain's MailOnline, with venomous messages after Djokovic's shock disqualification from the New York Grand Slam on Sunday night.

Djokovic inadvertently hit Clark with a stray tennis ball, causing the Kentucky woman to collapse and scream out in pain as she clutched her throat.

Visibly shocked at what had happened, the Serb rushed to check on Clark's condition.

But the damage had been done and Djokovic's fourth-round match with Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta was defaulted and Djokovic was thrown out of the tournament.

Djokovic has been stripped of his $250,000 (Dh918,230) prize money for reaching the last-16 and fined an extra $10,000 (Dh36,730) for 'unsportsmanlike behaviour'. 

The Serb took to Instagram to apologise for his actions, which have led to Clark being vilified by vicious trolls.

As reported by Britain's MailOnline, in one Instragram post, which was aimed at her late son Josh, who died in a motorcycle accident in 2008, user wrote: 'Don't worry, you'll join him soon' while another posted: 'hahahahahahahaha YEEEEES, YEEEEEEEES.'

Almost every post on Clark's account - her first picture was posted in September 2011 - has reportedly been spammed with hate-filled messages from Djokovic's fans, with MailOnline saying many calling her 'sick' and an 'alcoholic'.

Clark publicises a wine company in a series of different posts on her social media handles, and one user said: 'You can drink litres of alcohol but cannot survive small tennis ball?? Bad acting. Shameless.'

Meanwhile, Djokovic deserved to be disqualified from the US Open when he hit a line judge with reckless though unintentional ball abuse, Serbia's former Davis Cup coach Bogdan Obradovic told Reuters on Monday.

World number one Djokovic was disqualified while trailing Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-5 in the opening set of their fourth-round tie on Sunday, striking a line judge with a petulant swipe of the ball.

The incident happened after Djokovic squandered three set points on his opponent's serve and then dropped his own, handing the Spaniard the initiative.

"He drove through a red light," Obradovic, who was in charge of a Djokovic-led Serbia team which lifted the 2010 Davis Cup, told Reuters by telephone.

"I feel sorry for him because he was in good form and on course to win his 18th Grand Slam title, but the rules on ball and racket abuse are clear and they apply to everyone.

"He dragged himself into the mud by making a silly mistake in unfortunate circumstances. We are all human and we all vent our frustrations sometimes, but there is no excuse for putting someone in harms' way, albeit unintentionally.

"The most important thing is that the lady is fine and people saying that it wasn't that bad should really revisit that position and put themselves in her shoes."

Serbian fans jumped to Djokovic's defence on message boards in the aftermath of the incident, with some suggesting the line judge struck by the ball "embellished her pain" and reacted as if she had been "hit by a soccer ball."

Obradovic's peer Radmilo Armenulic, who coached the former Yugoslavia Davis Cup team in the 1980s and 1990s, told Reuters he was shocked with the decision though he acknowledged Djokovic also had himself to blame.

"To be honest, I was hoping for more lenient punishment because Djokovic saved this year's US Open by entering the tournament amid the coronavirus pandemic," he said.

"(Rafa) Nadal pulled out and (Roger) Federer is recovering from knee surgery so they really needed him there. But it's as if they couldn't wait to expel him.

"Then again, he gave them cause with a reckless reaction. Very unfortunate, but he will recover from this and move on because he is mentally strong."


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