Doubles pair disqualified after ballgirl struck in bizarre French Open incident

Miyu Kato

The doubles pair of Miyu Kato and Aldila Sutjiadi were eliminated from the French Open when a ballgirl was unintentionally struck by a backhand from Kato that had the appearance of being soft but nonetheless drew a disqualification.

After opponents Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo won the first set, the Japanese player and her Indonesian partner were up 3-1 in the second set when the incident occurred.

In an apparent attempt to aid the match’s flow, Kato, who was positioned at the net, lobbed a ball in the direction of the ballgirl who was positioned at Court 14’s other end, but it struck the child in the back of the head.

28-year-old Kato apologized right away to the shivering and sobbing girl.

After a protracted conversation between the three officials and the players, as well as between the authorities and the ball girl, tournament referee Remy Azémar eventually arrived. Kato and Sutjiadi were then defaulted and bowed out of the tournament in ignoble fashion.

A question has been raised about the consistency of officiating with Mirra Andreeva escaping similar punishment for a petulant outburst during her loss to Coco Gauff.

Mirra Andreeva of Russia acknowledged on Saturday that she had been fortunate to avoid being disqualified from her match against Gauff after sending a ball ungraciously towards the spectators on Court Suzanne Lenglen at some speed.

“Right after I thought that it was a really stupid move from me, because it was not necessary to do that,” admitted a remorseful Andreeva who was beaten by the American in an intense three-set battle.

“It was really bad what I did. Yes, I had thoughts like this (that she would be defaulted), but he just gave me a warning.”

Defaulting is not something limited to a select few hotheads with some of the biggest players in the game having their matches thrown out.

Those names include players who have won more than 20 Grand Slams in Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams.

Djokovic was pinned for inadvertently swatting a ball into a nearby line judge while Williams fell foul of officials when she chewed out a line judge over what she thought was a bad call in New York back in 2009.

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