Former tennis players and commentators have slammed a women's doubles pair at the French Open after they had their opponents disqualified for accidentally hitting a ball girl and making her cry.
Japan's Miyu Kato and Indonesia's Aldila Sutjiadi, who are the 16th seeds, were disqualified from their third-round women's doubles match on Monday morning (NZ time) after Kato lobbed a gentle one-handed backhand towards a ballgirl at the other end of the court, but unfortunately, the ball hit her.
Umpire Alexandre Juge initially gave Kato a warning before their opponents, Czech Marie Bouzkova and Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo, argued that Kato and Sutjiadi should be disqualified from the match.
Juge explained that Kato didn't injure or hit the ball girl on purpose so she shouldn't be disqualified.
"She didn't do it on purpose? She's crying," Sorribes Tormo said.
"And she has blood," Bouzkova added, prompting the umpire to go to see the ball girl, who was crying.
After speaking to the girl and a tournament supervisor, the umpire went back up to his chair and announced the end of the match with the disqualification of Kato and Sutjiadi.
Following the match, Kato took to social media to apologise for hitting the ball girl.
"I would like to sincerely apologise to the Ball Girl, my partner Aldila&Team, & my supporters because of today's unfortunate mishap. It was completely unintentional," Kato said on Twitter.
"As a result, I am penalised by RG by forfeiting my prize money & points. I appreciate all your continued support!"
The default means Kato and Sutjiadi forfeit all their ranking points and won't see a cent of the NZD$76,000 in prize money they would've received for making the third round.
Tennis fans and players have been quick to criticise Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo, with commentator and former doubles player Robbie Koenig calling the pair's behaviour "disgraceful".
Former French tennis player Gilles Simon, who had a career-high ranking of six, said he hopes Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo struggled to sleep after their act of poor sportsmanship.
He wrote on Twitter in French: "When you claim the disqualification of the opposing team when you haven't even seen the ball hit... I hope they have trouble falling asleep tonight," he wrote.
"As for the decision itself... refereeing at its most stupid."
Tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg said it was a "brutal call."
"Ball not hit in anger whatsoever, just hit across to ball girl to keep the match flowing because it was the other team's turn to serve," he said.
"Ball girl had hands full, reacted late. I hope K/S can appeal and not lose their entire prize money, as happens on defaults."
American tennis commentator Ricky Dimon said Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo should also be kicked out of the tournament.
"How is this a default? If Sorribes Tormo and Bouzkova actually protested to get their opponents defaulted for this, they should also be banned from playing the remainder of the tournament," he wrote on Twitter.
Canadian tennis broadcaster Ben Lewis said he was "so embarrassed" by Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo.
"I imagine they'll lose a LOT of respect in the locker room. Ridiculous."
Following the match, Bouzkova told media the incident was "unfortunate".
"I didn't see it, our team saw it," Bouzkova said.
"But I saw that the girl was still crying for 15 minutes afterwards.
"The warning first happened because the umpire didn't see that she was crying and she was in that kind of pain.
"We told the supervisor that he should look more into it because we saw the girl was crying and the ball had gone directly at her. It wasn't like the ball bounced or was a slower ball. It was in his hands. It was unfortunate."
The situation was in stark contrast to the incident that saw superstar Novak Djokovic kicked out of the US Open back in 2020, when he struck a ball at a lineswoman's throat.
Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo were leading 7-6(1) 1-3 at the time.2023-06-05T01:20:40Z dg43tfdfdgfd