'That was awful': French Open rocked by ugly sportsmanship storm

·Sports Editor
·6-min read
Kristina Mladenovic, pictured here looking shocked that the umpire missed the double bounce.
Kristina Mladenovic was stunned that the umpire didn't call a double bounce. Image: Fox Sports

Martina Navartilova has accused Laura Siegemund of poor sportsmanship after she got away with a clear double-bounce at a pivotal moment in her win over Kristina Mladenovic at the French Open.

Mladenovic was up 5-1 and holding a set point against Siegemund when the German scooped up a drop-shot despite the ball bouncing twice.

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Mladenovic then collided with the net as she scrambled to retrieve Siegemund’s ball, losing the point.

However she was left speechless that chair umpire Eva Asderaki had missed the double-bounce.

The controversial moment proved a turning point for Siegemund as she stormed back to take the set 7-5 before winning the second 6-3.

After the match Mladenovic was critical of the umpire, however tennis legend Navratilova pinned the blame on Siegemund.

“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.”

However other tennis writers weren’t convinced Siegemund would have known the ball bounced twice.

“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 writer Christopher Clarey tweeted.

“The question is: Was Siegemund completely certain? On stretch, under duress, you can tell yourself what you want to hear.”

Ricky Dimon wrote: “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.”

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Mladenovic blames umpire, not Siegemund

Mladenovic pinned no blame on Siegemund after the match, saying Asderaki was at fault.

“I think the chair umpire was the only person not to have seen it,” said the French player.

“Mistakes are human, but I don't see how the umpire can miss that. She didn't see a double bounce.

“Unfortunately, she will continue at Roland Garros, and I won’t continue at Roland Garros.

“If (Siegemund) would have done it, she would have all my respect and be super fair play. But she's not the one responsible. I think the chair umpire is the one that should be really focused on that call.”

The World No.44 Mladenovic suggested tennis should introduce a football-like VAR system.

Laura Siegemund's ball, pictured here clearly bouncing twice.
Laura Siegemund's ball clearly bounced twice before she hit it. Image: Fox Sports

"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.”

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.”

However fans were left fuming, with some accusing Siegemund of ‘cheating’.

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Mladenovic unhappy with disrupted preparation

The German player insisted 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 said.

“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 where she led Russia’s Varvara Gracheva 6-1, 5-1 and had four match points but still went on to lose in three sets.

She then got kicked out of doubles at the US Open - where she and Timea Babos were seeded No. 1 - because she came in contact during a practice session and card game with a countryman, Benoit Paire, who tested positive for coronavirus in New York.

Public health officials said Mladenovic was at risk and was placed in quarantine after her singles exit but just before her doubles match.

“Definitely not the preparation I wanted to have coming up to Roland Garros,” she admitted.

“I couldn't prepare the way I wanted, so it obviously affected my whole preparation.

“I wanted to play Rome, to play Strasbourg, but I couldn't be ready for it.”

with agencies

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