A women’s doubles pairing has been sensationally disqualified from the French Open after one player accidentally hit a ballkid.
Mari Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo were leading 7-6 1-3 against Aldila Sutjiadi and Miyu Kato when drama hit their third round match at Roland Garros.
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After a ball landed at the net, Kato picked it up and lobbed it gently with a one-handed backhand towards a ballgirl at the other end of the court.
But unfortunately the ball hit the ballgirl in the side of her chest and she was in clear discomfort.
The chair umpire gave Kato a warning but their opponents Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo argued that Kato and Sutjiadi should be disqualified, or defaulted from the match.
“This is default”, they said.
The chair umpire replied: “She didn’t do it on purpose, she didn’t get injured.”
Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo said: “But she’s crying. She’s crying.”
A supervisor came out and the match ended there and then in dramatic scenes as 16th seeds Sutjiadi and Kato were defaulted from the tournament.
Viewers and tennis commentators were surprised by the heavy punishment, especially given Kato didn’t hit the ball in anger.
It was also a fairly gentle hit, compared to the time Novak Djokovic accidentally whacked a ball at a lineswoman’s throat at the 2020 US Open, resulting in him kicked out of the grand slam.
Tennis writer Simon Chambers tweeted: “The umpire originally gave just a warning – it was only when Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo pointed out that the ball girl was crying (and continued to make their case) that the umpire, after a long time and discussion with senior officials, announced the default.”
Journalist Sasa Ozmo said: “IMO, not a good look insisting to win a match by default after a situation like this, where it’s clear that there wasn’t any bad intention.”
Tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg said: “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. “Ball girl had hands full, reacted late. I hope K/S can appeal and not lose their entire prize money, as happens on defaults.”
The Tennis Podcast account posted: “Surprised this resulted in a default. Smacking the ball in anger, not caring where it goes, is one thing, but Kato seemed to be appropriately returning the ball.
“It was a genuine accident, not one caused by disregarding the safety of others. Can’t the rules recognise that?”