Uproar over 'disgusting' controversy in French Open semi-final

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Barbora Krejcikova, pictured here arguing with the umpire in the French Open semi-finals.
Barbora Krejcikova was made to win the French Open semi-final twice. Image: Getty

Barbora Krejcikova was forced to win her French Open semi-final twice on Thursday when a shocking umpire error on match point kept Maria Sakkari alive.

With Sakkari serving at 7-8, 30-40 in the deciding set, Krejcikova thought she had booked her place in the final when Sakkari hit a forehand long.

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The line judge called the ball out and the Czech woman raised her arms in triumph after a titanic battle that lasted over three hours.

However the chair umpire had other ideas, coming down to check the mark on the court and declaring that the ball had hit the baseline.

Krejcikova was gobsmacked at the overrule, with TV replays showing the ball was actually out and the chair umpire had made a brutal error.

With the contest swinging wildly from one player to another, the momentum could have easily tilted back Sakkari's way and she had a game point to make it 8-8.

But luckily for Krejcikova she saw off the game point before wrapping it up on her next, and fifth, match point for a 7-5 4-6 9-7 victory.

Fans and commentators were left seething over the controversy, with many calling for Hawk-Eye technology to be brought in at Roland Garros.

"I was thinking that maybe they will get Hawk-Eye for this tournament like they do the other grand slams – I just felt so bad for her," said Chris Evert in commentary for Eurosport.

"I was horrified when they showed the ball was out after the umpire had called it in."

Andy Murray took to social media, tweeting: "That is an absolutely brutal error from the umpire."

Analyst and coach Brad Gilbert wrote: "Hopefully egregious mistake by umpire today can lead to hawkeye being at all big clay court events in 2022."

Others labelled the umpire's overrule "disgusting" and "disgraceful".

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Barbora Krejcikova reacts to umpiring controversy

The French Open is the only grand slam that doesn't use the ball-tracking technology.

"No Hawk-Eye on clay, it's difficult. I mean, sometimes it's a help, sometimes it doesn't. I don't know. It's very difficult," said World No.33 Krejcikova after the match.

"At that moment I was just like, 'Well, it's out, but what can you do?' The chair umpire, he has seen it as in. What can I do? I cannot do anything about it. I cannot call anyone, change his decision.

"I was like... it's fine. Doesn't matter. Just let's go."

While players at the other three grand slams can challenge line calls by using Hawk-Eye, Roland Garros organisers have adamantly refused to introduce the ball-tracking technology at the clay-court major.

Their argument has always been that umpires can easily spot the dent left by the balls to decide close calls. 

The Australian and US Opens have done away with line judges completely and rely solely on the technology.

Barbora Krejcikova celebrates her victory over Maria Sakkari at the French Open. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Barbora Krejcikova celebrates her victory over Maria Sakkari at the French Open. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Krejcikova will now face Russian 31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Saturday's final.

"You just have to put everything together and just keep working, next one, next one, next one," she explained.

The 25-year-old was also at a point where she felt simply being on court in such a match was enough and said she would have been proud of herself even if she had lost.

"I always wanted to play matches like this. I always wanted to play tournaments like this, big tournaments, big opponents, last rounds. It was always something that I wanted to achieve. It was just taking so long," she said.

"It just took me some time, but I think right now it's actually the right moment. 

"Especially mentally I think I'm just there. I really matured. I just really appreciate things a lot, especially after what I've gone through, also with this pandemic and everything."

with agencies

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