Tennis Controversies of the Week: Rafael Nadal, Andrey Rublev blast Madrid Open umpiring amid angry outbursts; Holger Rune accuses tournament of cheating; Aryna Sabalenka faces backlash for misogynistic take, and more

S Shahi
(Left to Right) Rafael Nadal, Andrey Rublev, Holger Rune, Aryna Sabalenka
(Left to Right) Rafael Nadal, Andrey Rublev, Holger Rune, Aryna Sabalenka

Rafael Nadal and Andrey Rublev engaged in heated exchanges with the chair umpire over line call judgment in their respective matches at the 2024 Madrid Open. In other news, Holger Rune accused the tournament of cheating during his second-round match against Mariano Navone.

Meanwhile, Aryna Sabalenka faced backlash over remarks regarding her favoritism for men's tennis over women's. Marta Kostyuk faced criticism for her comments regarding Russians and her WTA contemporaries.

Also, the French Open received flak for refusing to change night session timings despite strong criticism.

On that note, here's a recap of the top controversies from last week:

Rafael Nadal and Andrey Rublev got into heated argument with the chair umpire in their respective matches at Madrid Open

Rafael Nadal and Andrey Rublev both engaged in heated exchanges with the chair umpire during their respective matches at the 2024 Madrid Open.

In Nadal's second-round match against Alex de Minaur, the former disputed a line call during the first set, contending that the latter's shot was out. Despite Nadal pointing out the landing spot and expressing a desire to challenge the call, the chair umpire disagreed, citing the need for immediate challenges.

Nadal sought intervention from the tournament supervisor to resolve the issue but resumed play without a resolution. The Spaniard went on to win the match 7-6(6), 6-3, and now will face Argentine Pedro Cachin in the third round.

Meanwhile, Andrey Rublev had a similar dispute regarding a line call during his third-round match against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. In the first set, a call initially went against the Spaniard but was later clarified as in. Although Rublev's return went out, the point was awarded to the Spaniard.

Rublev challenged the call and argued that the linesperson's call came before his return, suggesting a replay of the point. Despite expressing frustration and advocating for Electronic Line Calling, Rublev faced disagreement from the umpire, who maintained that his shot followed the line call.

Rublev managed to win the match 7-6(10), 6-4, advancing to the Round of 16 to face 24th seed Tallon Griekspoor.

Holger Rune accused the Madrid Open of 'cheating' during the 2R match

Holger Rune leveled accusations of unfair play at the Madrid Open management during his second-round match against Argentine Mariano Navone. The Dane reported to the chair umpire that his racket was missing some strings while he was on the court with Navone.

"The tournament is trying to cheat me.....they missed one string on my racquet," Rune told the chair umpire.

Despite this unwanted interruption, Holger Rune went on to win the match 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-4 before ultimately losing 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to 11th seed Tallon Griekspoor in the third round.

Aryna Sabalenka faces backlash over her preference for men's tennis over women's

Aryna Sabalenka at the Madrid Open
Aryna Sabalenka at the Madrid Open

Aryna Sabalenka received criticism for her remarks preferring men’s tennis to women’s. In her pre-tournament press conference in Madrid, the World No. 2 stated that she finds men’s tennis more captivating and logical.

The Belarusian's comments ignited dissatisfaction among fans who felt it devalued women’s tennis. Addressing the controversy, the two-time Grand Slam champion explained that her preference for watching men’s tennis stems from wanting to see something different during her downtime, given the extensive time she spends studying her opponents.

"I didn't mean to disparage women's tennis, I just find it more fun to watch men play because I spend a lot of time studying my opponents, so then in my free time I don't want to see girls again that I can play against," Aryna Sabalenka said in the press conference.

Aryna Sabalenka is currently in the middle of her Madrid Open campaign, where she advanced to the Round of 16 and will face American Danielle Collins.

Marta Kostyuk faced criticism for remarks regarding Russians and her contemporaries at the Stuttgart Open

Marta Kostyuk during the Billie Jean King Cup
Marta Kostyuk during the Billie Jean King Cup

Marta Kostyuk shed light on the use of the Ukrainian slogan “Slava Ukraini!” (Glory to Ukraine) during her runner-up speech at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix final in Stuttgart.

In the post-match press conference, Kostyuk disclosed that she uses the slogan to distinguish Ukrainians from Russians based on their reactions. However, her comments, given the Russia-Ukraine war, have sparked a divide among tennis fans on social media.

Furthermore, Kostyuk stirred another controversy with her remarks on the potential of facing more seeded opponents in a WTA 500 tournament compared to a Grand Slam. The Ukrainian referenced Qinwen Zheng’s performance at this year’s Australian Open, where the Chinese player didn't beat a single-seeded player during her run to the final.

These comments were not well-received by fans, who voiced their displeasure on X (formerly Twitter).

Marta Kostyuk recently faced an early exit against Mayar Sherif at the Madrid Open.

French Open criticized for not making any changes in night session timings

The 2024 French Open has been criticized for not altering its night session timings, a decision that has been controversial among players, analysts, and fans in recent years.

Night session matches this year will commence at 8:30 PM local time, with an extra night session added on the first day of main draw matches. This decision was met with disapproval from tennis fans, who expressed their dissatisfaction on social media, mocking the French Open’s stubbornness in not making changes despite consistent backlash.

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