Doubles pair disqualified after ball girl accidentally struck

Source: Twitter/@lobguruza/Eurosports

Controversy has erupted at the French Open after doubles player Miyu Kato and her partner were forced to forfeit a match when a ball girl was left sobbing after the Japanese player hit her in the neck with a ball.

The incident occurred on Sunday (local time), in the second set on Court 14 at Roland Garros.

Kato took a swing with her racquet and the ball flew towards the ball kid, who was not looking in Kato’s direction at the time.

At first, chair umpire Alexandre Juge stopped with only a warning to Kato.

“No, no, let me explain to you. She [Kato] didn’t do it on purpose, she [the ball girl] didn’t get injured,” Juge told the pair’s opponents, Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic and Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain.

“She didn’t do it on purpose? She’s crying,” Sorribes Tormo said.

“And she has blood,” Bouzkova said, prompting Juge to check on the sobbing ball kid.

However, after tournament referee Remy Azemar and Grand Slam supervisor, Australian Wayne McKewen arrived on court to look into what happened, Kato and her partner, Aldila Sutjiadi of Indonesia, were disqualified.

The unfortunate episode left the ball girl crying and the disqualified Kato needing comfort from Sutjiadi because she was also distressed. Kato was still in tears as she left the court.

Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo were declared the match-winners – an announcement that brought jeers and boos from the Roland Garros crowd.

“It’s just a bad situation for everyone,” Bouzkova said. “But it’s kind of something that, I guess, is taken by the rules, as it is, even though it’s very unfortunate for them. At the end of the day, it was the referee’s decision.”

Bouzkova said she did not see the ball hit the ball girl, but “she was crying for like 15 minutes.”

She said one of the officials said the ball “has to do some kind of harm to the person affected” and that “at first, [Juge] didn’t see that.”

Bouzkova said she and Sorribes Tormo told Juge “to look into it more and ask our opponents what they think happened”.

The controversy continued into Monday, when Kato posted an official apology to social media.

The incident came just a day after Mirra Andreeva swatted a ball into the Court Suzanne Lenglen stands after dropping a point in her first set against Coco Gauff.

Andreeva later admitted she thought she might be defaulted. Instead, she was given a warning by the chair umpire for unsportsmanlike conduct, with no further penalty.

“I heard about that. Didn’t see it,” Bouzkova said. “I guess it just depends on the circumstances and the given situation as it happens … It is difficult, for sure.”

Gauff won the match 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 6-1.

Three years ago, then world No.1 Novak Djokovic was disqualified from the US Open after hitting a line judge with the ball after a point during a match against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.

-with AAP

Topics: French Open
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