Cheating controversy rocks French Open
Martina Navratilova has accused German star Laura Siegemund of failing to call a double bounce in an incident that's divided tennis.
Siegemund profited from a clear violation of the rules in her match against Kristina Mladenovic to help knock the Frenchwoman out of her home Grand Slam on Wednesday.
Mladenovic was 5-1 up and with a set point against Siegemund when the German scooped up a winner despite the ball appearing to bounce twice. The incident was missed by chair umpire Eva Asderaki.
World number 44 Mladenovic pleaded in vain before Siegemund took full advantage, racing into the next round with a 7-5, 6-3 win.
While both players were quick to place responsibility for the call on the umpire, Navratilova said Siegemund could have stepped up and shown sportsmanship.
"That was awful," Navratilova tweeted. "The umpire, who is usually great, missed that one.
"In the old days we would have called it ourselves but these days it's different. For sure Siegemund knew she didn't get it on the first bounce et voilà - it totally turned the match as Mladenovic knew it … shame."
Other tennis commentators were divided.
"If you know you have hit a ball after the second bounce, you should, if you are a fair tennis player, surrender the point to your opponent," New York Times tennis writer Christopher Clarey tweeted. "The question is: Was Siegemund completely certain? On stretch, under duress, you can tell yourself what you want to hear."
"Anyone who plays tennis at even a halfway decent level knows how hard it is to tell on your own side if it is a double bounce when it's this close and you are sprinting 100 miles per hour trying to get a racket on it," wrote tennis scribe Ricky Dimon.
Laura Siegemund saved seven points to win the first set, 7-5, over Kiki Mladenovic, but did the German *truly* earn the comeback?— TENNIS (@Tennis) September 29, 2020
A missed call and lack of sportsmanship would suggest otherwise.
Passport to #RolandGarros // https://t.co/wJ0wjjpH1b pic.twitter.com/hKWdfZaz2W
Mladenovic called for a football-style VAR system to be introduced in tennis after her tournament ended.
"It would be great to have that," said Mladenovic when asked if video replays should be introduced in tennis.
"It'd be a pity to replace a human with a camera but to err is human. I don't see how the umpire could not see it. Unfortunately, she continues at Roland Garros but I do not."
It was a second successive miserable Grand Slam for the 27-year-old Frenchwoman who was withdrawn from the doubles at the US Open earlier this month in a row over coronavirus.
Despite her disappointment, Mladenovic refused to blame Siegemund for not calling the incident on herself.
"Well, she would have been the best and most fair player on the tour if she would have done that. Unfortunately, she didn't. I didn't expect her to do it," added Mladenovic.
"But if she would have done it, she would have all my respect and (it would) be super-fair play. She's not the one responsible. I think the chair umpire is the one that should be really focused on that call. The set was mine. It was just unlucky for me that the chair umpire didn't do her job."
Siegemund defended not calling the double bounce herself.
"If in that call, I'm coming running full speed, if in that call I say, 'Oh, it was a double bounce,' and later I see on the video it was not, I would be angry at myself. So I think in that situation, that was a close call," said the 66th-ranked player.
"That's what the umpire is there for. I think she has better chances than me to see what has happened exactly."
Siegemund backed Mladenovic's call for video replays which would allow controversial calls to be reviewed courtside and, if necessary, overturned.
"If we have the technical devices to get a quick replay, I think that's a good thing for all sports," she said.
However, Siegemund insisted that Mladenovic had plenty of chances to kill off the first set even before the controversy erupted.
"I can understand her frustration. I can maybe understand a little bit that she's getting at me, but I think she should get at the umpire.
"She had plenty of other opportunities. It was just the wrong call, and that happens in sport."
Mladenovic has seen crucial leads disappear before - at the US Open, she led Russia's Varvara Gracheva 6-1, 5-1 and had four match points but still went on to lose in three sets.
- with AFP
Originally published as Cheating controversy rocks French Open