"Atrocious, what a circus" - Terence Atmane escaping punishment at French Open after hitting spectator in controversial fashion infuriates Liam Broady

Terence Atmane (L) and Liam Broady (R)
Terence Atmane (L) and Liam Broady (R)

Liam Broady expressed his disbelief with the management's decision after Terence Atmane unintentionally hit a spectator during the 2024 French Open. Atmane played Sebastian Ofner in the first round of the French Open.

The homeboy lost to the Austrian even though he led in the opening two sets. Atmane lost his composure in the fourth set after losing a point, just as Ofner made a comeback and was 4-1 ahead.

In a fit of anger, Atmane hit the ball into the seats of the 492-capacity court. The match was halted for nearly 15 minutes after the ball accidentally struck a spectator. The referee spoke with the fan and subsequently issued a warning to the French for his misconduct. The decision infuriated former World No. 93 Liam Broady who later criticized the official call.

Broady found the umpiring "atrocious", noting the decision to only issue a warning. He attributed the alleged leniency shown towards the French player to the home ground of the French Open, commenting on an X thread he started:

"For those wondering… I found the supervising and umpiring in that match ATROCIOUS. Umpire wasn’t even going to give a warning. And supervisor went to ask spectator about it in front of 1000 French fans chanting 'let him play'. What a circus. French in France I guess."

"For me, it was a bit surprising" - Sebastian Ofner was surprised by the call at French Open

World Tennis League - Day 5
World Tennis League - Day 5

According to Associate Press, Sebastian Ofner expressed surprise and asserted that such an action in a small court should warrant punishment. He explained that the Atmane hit the ball with full power directly into the crowd, making it dangerous.

"For me, it was a bit surprising, because if you do something like that on a small court, you have to be punished, you know? Because it’s not like you hit the ball normally. It was full power. The ball was so fast. Straight in the crowd. There were people disqualified for less.”

Ofner recounted that the referee explained the decision by saying he had spoken with the spectator, who initially felt pain but later said she was fine.

“The referee said, ‘Oh, yeah, I was talking with the lady. The lady said at the beginning it was hurting but now it’s fine, and everything was OK. She saw the ball coming. So it’s not enough for disqualification.’ I think if he would see how it was, maybe he would decide different.”

The leniency might be surprising to others as well, given that many players have been punished for similar misconduct. At last year’s French Open, Miyu Kato and her partner were forced to leave a match after she accidentally hit a ball girl in the neck.

Moreover, Novak Djokovic was punished similarly at the 2020 US Open when he mistakenly hit a line judge.

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