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Shapovalov has sympathy for Djokovic, excited for new champion

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Denis Shapovalov knows better than most how Novak Djokovic must be feeling after the world No. 1 was sensationally defaulted from the U.S. Open on Sunday for hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball.

Sep 6, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Denis Shapovalov of Canada hits the ball against David Goffin of Belgium on day seven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Shapovalov, who reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final with a 6-7(0) 6-3 6-4 6-3 win over David Goffin, suffered the same fate as the Serb in a 2017 Davis Cup tie when he smashed a ball in frustration and it hit umpire Arnaud Gabas in the face.

“It’s just super unfortunate for everybody,” the Canadian told reporters on Sunday. “I mean, I’ve been in that situation so I know exactly how Novak is feeling.

“Of course, he had no intentions to go after the lines woman. Thankfully she’s okay. It could have ended up very, very

bad.

“Hopefully Novak can shake it off and move on. I mean, of course, he needs to grow and learn from this.

“But it’s super, super unlucky as well.”

Djokovic’s exit, however, opens up the men’s side of the draw and removes a major obstacle in the 21-year-old’s path to the final as the Serb had been looming as a potential quarter-final opponent.

Instead, Shapovalov will play Pablo Carreno Busta for a place in the semis.

With Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal -- the other two members of the ‘Big Three’ -- absent and no other Grand Slam champions left in the draw, Flushing Meadows will crown a first-time major champion.

“Obviously with some of the top guys not playing it’s opened up the draw quite a bit for everybody so you’re seeing a lot of new players that normally fans wouldn’t get to see,” Shapovalov said in his on-court interview.

“It’s just amazing for the sport to have a new Grand Slam champion, its been getting pretty boring with these three guys winning every tournament.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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