Wimbledon rocked by doubles drama as players refuse to continue

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·Sports Reporter
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A screenshot of the Hawkeye decision is on the left, and Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury arguing woth officials on the right.
Men's doubles pair Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury were left furious after they believed a Hawkeye review was inaccurate at Wimbledon. Pictures: BBC

Wimbledon has been rocked by a surprising controversy in which the top seeded men's doubles pairing refused to return to the court after a contentious Hawkeye review.

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury were furious after a half-hearted challenge from opponents Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin was ruled by the technology to have been in.

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This meant that instead of breaking serve and squaring the second set at 5-5 and having the chance to serve for the lead, Ram and Salisbury found themselves back behind the eight-ball.

The challenge from Mahut and Roger-Vasselin wasn't called for with much conviction, and only seemed to be done given the set was poised so delicately at the time.

Ram and Salisbury were in disbelief after Hawkeye showed the ball, which they believed had clearly drifted long, had just clipped the baseline.

After a furious exchange with the chair umpire, both players sat down and refused to play on.

"No way, man! That is absolutely ridiculous. There is no way, no way at all! We're turning the machine off. We're not in the future here, man," Ram protested.

Salisbury was equally filthy, saying "There is no chance that is in. You know it is wrong! Can you get the supervisor?"

Neither of the pair wanted to continue the match with Hawkeye in place, but both the chair umpire and tournament supervisor eventually explained to the pair that it was a requirement for them to continue.

A five-minute delay ensued as officials spoke with the players, before play resumed and the point was given to the French duo.

Wimbledon doubles briefly delayed by Hawkeye controversy

Though Ram and Salisbury eventually prevailed in an engrossing five-set epic, 6-3 6-7 (1) 6-1 3-6 6-4, both remained certain Hawkeye had made an error.

“We were 100% convinced that the hawkeye was wrong. Obviously we wouldn’t have done what we did and ask for the supervisors if we weren’t completely convinced the ball was out, a long way out,” Salisbury said.

“We saw it that way, the umpire saw it that way, the line judge called it out and the umpire didn’t overrule it and he agreed with us.

"We couldn’t believe that they had challenged it, we went and sat down convinced we’d won the game.

“I guess there’s a chance that we all saw it wrong, the line judge, the umpire, us. To us it wasn’t even close. They checked the hawkeye and it seemed like it was OK for the rest of the match, it didn’t seem like there were any that were completely wrong. Maybe we all need to get our eyes checked.

“We got pretty riled up about it and pretty frustrated. We would’ve broken and been serving for the second set and we were pretty frustrated. I don’t think it affected us too much, we managed to hold serve afterwards and went into the tie-break feeling OK.

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury are pictured playing in the quarter final of the Wimbledon men's doubles.
Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury were rattled by the Hawkeye controversy, but gathered themselves to win through to the Wimbledon semi-finals. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

“Some people it helps and it almost gives them a reason to get more stuck in and more into it, a reason to fight, but for me it just makes me angry and then I don’t really respond well when I’m feeling like that, so I managed to put it out of my mind.”

Salisbury and Ram sealed victory to set up a meeting against Max Purcell and Matt Ebden - who beat them in the Australian Open semi-final in January.

It will be Salisbury’s third Wimbledon semi-final - his second with Ram - and despite the controversy, he was pleased with how he finished the contest.

He said: “I think that’s our first five-set win. We obviously only play the five sets here and we played one a few years ago where we lost 13-12 in the fifth, but I think we were just really happy with how we stuck with it the whole match.

“They’re a really tough team and we haven’t done too well against Mahut in the past, and I thought they really raised their game in the fourth. I’m just happy that we came through it and played really well in the end.”

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