WATCH: Frustrated player accidentally hits spectator as British star slams ‘atrocious’ umpiring

Shahida Jacobs
Terence Atmane in action
Terence Atmane of France in action

Terence Atmane was fortunate to escape with just a warning after he hit a spectator with a ball when his frustrations got the better of him in the first round of the French Open.

Wildcard Atmane took on Sebastian Ofner in the first round in Paris on Sunday and he raced into a two-set to love lead, but the Austrian bounced back by taking the third set before opening a 4-1 lead in the fourth.

With Ofner serving to make it 5-1, a backhand reply from the No 121 was called long and the Frenchman then took his anger out on the ball as he smashed it into the stands on Court 12.

The ball hit a woman and play was then halted for a lengthy period as the chair umpire and tournament referee first went over to check on the spectator before discussing what punishment to hand to Atmane.

Ofner wanted him to be disqualified, but the officials opted to give him a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct.

World No 45 Ofner won the match 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, 7-5, but he felt his opponent was lucky to get away with only a warning.

“For me, it was a bit surprising, because if you do something like that on a small court, you have to be punished, you know?” he said.

“Because it’s not like you hit the ball normally. It was full power. The ball was so fast. Straight in the crowd. There were people disqualified for less.”

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He added: “The referee said, ‘Oh, yeah, I was talking with the lady. The lady said at the beginning it was hurting but now it’s fine, and everything was OK. She saw the ball coming. So it’s not enough for disqualification.’

“I think if he would see how it was, maybe he would decide different.

“A little bit more unlucky and it’s going directly in the face. And then something can happen [like] a broken nose or whatever.”

Great Britain’s Liam Broady joined the debate on social media as he criticised the officials for the decision not to disqualify Atmane.

“I would love to get everybodies thoughts on the Atmane situation… I can’t not talk about this,” he wrote.

The world No 147 added: “For those wondering… I found the supervising and umpiring in that match ATROCIOUS. Umpire wasn’t even going to give a warning. And supervisor went to ask spectator about it in front of 1000 French fans chanting let him play. What a circus. French in France I guess ♂️”