In an unexpected turn of events during the French Open, a doubles pair was disqualified for hitting a ball girl, sparking controversy within the tennis community. The pair, Miyu Kato and Aldila Sutjiadi, were immediately defaulted following the incident. The story has drawn worldwide attention, stirring intense debates regarding tournament rules and sportsmanship. Visit dtk.com.vn to dive deeper into this significant event, get detailed coverage of the incident, and join the conversation on how such situations can be better managed in the future.
I. Doubles pair disqualified for hitting ball girl
A professional doubles tennis team was disqualified from the French Open on Sunday due to an unfortunate accident in which a ball inadvertently struck a ball girl.
The 16th-seeded pair, Miyu Kato and Aldila Sutjiadi, were trailing in their match against Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic and Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain, having lost a set in the third-round match. The disqualification arose when Kato unintentionally hit the ball girl, who was standing at the rear of the court and didn’t notice the incoming ball until it struck her, as captured in video footage by Tennis.com.
Umpire Alexandre Juge initially issued a warning to Kato. However, Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo insisted that the tournament rules be enforced, which meant disqualification for their opponents, as reported by ESPN.
Juge engaged in discussion with Remy Azemar, the tournament referee, and Wayne McEwen, the Grand Slam supervisor, before making the decision to withdraw the previous warning. Instead, he declared that the Kato-Sutjiadi team had been “defaulted”, or effectively disqualified, from the tournament, as reported by Tennis.com.
Following the incident, Kato appeared to offer apologies and comforting words to the visibly upset young ball girl, who was brought to tears by the mishap.
II. Interview with Japanese doubles tennis player Miyu Kato
Miyu Kato, a Japanese doubles tennis player who was disqualified, or “defaulted,” from the French Open for inadvertently hitting a ball girl in the neck, was visibly emotional during her interview on Monday.
Many spectators deemed the punishment to be overly harsh, as Kato was merely attempting to pass the ball back to the ball girl, rather than angrily hitting it away as Novak Djokovic did at the 2020 US Open.
However, supervisor Wayne McKewen maintained that Kato could not proceed in the tournament, resulting in her losing any points or prize money she might have garnered from the women’s doubles event in Paris.
The day after the disqualification, Kato found herself playing on the same court – No. 14 – in a mixed-doubles match with her German partner, Tim Puetz. They successfully won their match with a score of 7-6, 6-2. Puetz expressed his relief post-match, saying, “I’m happy that we can add some good memories instead of just leaving Paris with that really horrible feeling from what happened yesterday.”
Due to a language barrier and her heightened emotional state, Kato was mostly quiet, with Puetz doing most of the talking.
When asked about her feelings regarding her return to Court 14, Kato had to momentarily step out of the interview room to regain her composure. Upon her return, she attempted to respond through a Japanese reporter who then translated her answer.
The reporter relayed that Kato had been approached by numerous fellow players at the tournament site who offered her encouragement, telling her to ‘lift her head up’ and assuring her of their support.
Although Puetz hadn’t been present during the default incident, he made a few insightful comments during the interview. Notably, he suggested that video replays should be considered when making decisions about such incidents.
III. Kato apologizes to fans
After the match, Miyu Kato took to Twitter to express her apologies to her fans and supporters, as well as to the ball girl and her teammate, Aldila.
She tweeted, “I would like to extend my sincerest apologies to the Ball Girl, my partner Aldila & our Team, and all my supporters for today’s unfortunate incident. It was entirely unintentional.” She further explained the consequences of the event, stating, “As a result, I am being penalized by the French Open by having to forfeit my prize money and points. I truly appreciate your continued support.”
Alize Cornet, a French tennis player, expressed her dissent over the decision, commenting, “Insane decision.” She empathized with Kato, adding, “I really feel sorry for you but many players (apart from Marie and Sara, obviously) are backing you.”
The opposing team, Sorribes Tormo and Bouzkova, faced criticism for advocating for the disqualification. However, Bouzkova defended their stance in a conversation with reporters.
She said, “It’s just a regrettable situation for everyone. However, this seems to be a situation that’s guided by the rules as they stand, even though it’s highly unfortunate for them. At the end of the day, it was the referee’s decision.
IV. Lack of consistency in applying the rule
“I think everyone has seen the footage,” Puetz remarked. “There was no malicious intent in her actions. However, the ball did strike the ball girl.
“Two supervisors had to come onto the court, who likely didn’t witness the incident. All they saw was a ball girl in tears who had been hit by a ball. Making a decision in such a moment is very challenging.
“While I don’t necessarily agree with the decision, I can comprehend how it was reached. The lack of an option to review the footage – I think that’s something we might consider adding in today’s digital era, especially for major courts like this one.
“Yes, overall it’s really regrettable, not just for the girl who was hit – who likely had a very bad day yesterday – but also for Miyu, and of course, her partner [Aldila Sutjiadi]. It’s a terrible situation.”
On social media, much of the reaction centered on the conduct of Kato’s opponents, Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo. They urged chair umpire Alexandre Juge to implement the default rule, but the decision wasn’t actually made until supervisor McKewen arrived on the court.
On Monday, Sorribes Tormo lost a singles match against Beatriz Haddad Maia that lasted 3 hours and 51 minutes – the longest match on the women’s tour this year. When asked about the doubles match on Sunday, she responded, “Firstly, what happened yesterday was a very unfortunate situation. It’s also difficult for Marie and me to hear all the things people are saying. It’s not easy because all we did yesterday was go to the referee and explain what happened.