What are the odds?
For the second straight Grand Slam, Novak Djokovic hit a ball that hit a line judge above the shoulders.
During his fourth-round win over Karen Khachanov on Monday, the world No. 1 was trying to return a serve when he lunged at the ball and re-directed it directly at a judge’s face. The judge was not injured and, unlike at the U.S. Open last month, the 33-year-old Serb was not defaulted from tournament.
French Open officials determined this was a pure accident because he was in the act of playing when the ball left his racket.
Djokovic called it “a very awkward situation.”
“I hope he’s fine,” Djokovic said. “He dealt with it in a strong and brave way. But it was a hit because I was very close.”
At the U.S. Open, he hit a ball in frustration toward the back of the court and hit line judge Laura Clark in the throat. He was immediately defaulted from the tournament and Clark proceeded to be harassed and receive death threats from some of Djokovic’s most ardent fans.
“It was very awkward deja vu,” Djokovic said. “I’m actually trying to find the lines person 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.”
“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 a line umpire.”
To make matters more ironic, Djokovic will next face No. 17 Pablo Carreno Busta in a rematch of the U.S. Open match where he was defaulted.
Carreno Busta advanced to the quarterfinals in straight sets over Daniel Altmaier of Germany, 6-2, 7-5, 6-2.
Djokovic is 35-1 in 2020, with his only loss coming to Carreno Busta in New York.
In the other quarterfinal on the top half of the draw, Russian No. 13 Andrey Rublev will face No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas.
On the bottom half of the draw, No. 12 Diego Schwartzman meets No. 3 Dominic Thiem, the U.S. Open champion.
Unseeded Italian Jannik Sinner, who beat No. 6 Sascha Zverev in the fourth round, gets 12-time champion and No. 2 Rafael Nadal.
Nadal, 34, is seeking his record-tying 20th Grand Slam title, and could face Djokovic in the final.
Djokovic has won five of the last eight majors and is seeking his 18th Grand Slam title.