Disqualified doubles pair divide opinion in French Open ball girl drama
Miyu Kato and her partner, Aldila Sutjiadi were defaulted while leading in the second set of their French Open third-round match against Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo in a decision that has sparked fierce debate.
Kato had committed the offence as she lobbed a ball back to Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo’s side of the court where it struck a ball girl.
The ball girl appeared to have been more shocked than hurt but applying the letter of the law the tournament supervisor defaulted Kato.
Former French Open finalist Alex Corretja believes that the call was a harsh one.
“You need to be careful where you put the ball because you can hit someone, as has happened,” Corretja told Eurosport.
“She hit the ball girl, but I’m 100% sure she didn’t mean it, and she didn’t hurt her much or even a little bit.
“There was a lot of discussion with the referee and umpire.
“In my opinion, on this occasion, it was too strict to disqualify her because it was very slow.
“Of course, you need to respect the decision, but I don’t think it was as bad as to do that. I feel bad first of all for the girl, but as a tennis player, I don’t think it was enough to disqualify the player.
“It’s difficult because when you hit someone it’s risky, and we saw that with Novak [Djokovic] when he hit the line judge’s throat at the US Open. But that was harder and closer, and it hurt her.
“On this occasion, it hit the ball kid’s back. It’s always tough, but you can see she was trying to pass the ball to the other side of the court. That happens many times, even if you hit your opponent or if the ball kids are running.
“For me, it was a little bit too strict,” he concluded. “It is subjective, and that’s the toughest part of the sport, when you judge something that you didn’t even see. Not even the chair umpire or the referee saw the whole thing happen.
“I don’t think it was hard enough or intentional enough. I know that it was not intentional. No one hits the ball intentionally to hit someone.”
Former British No 1 Tim Henman believes that Kato needs to take responsibility for a careless action and French Open officials made the correct call.
“Speaking from experience, I got disqualified at Wimbledon,” Henman said.
“I sent Wayne McKewen a message and 29 years in between, I said ‘wow, you were the umpire then, and you’re the supervisor today, still disqualifying people from Grand Slams for hitting ball kids!’
“It’s one of those where you have to take responsibility when you are hitting the ball around the court, even passing it to the other end. She’s just flicking the backhand, and it’s careless.
“There’s no malicious intent, but when she’s hit the ball, it’s then gone into the ball girl, and she was very upset and distressed by that. It puts the umpire, supervisor and referee in a difficult position.”
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