Sara Sorribes Tormo has been knocked out of the French Open singles draw in a four-hour thriller — but for many the instant classic was a simple case of the “karma bus” arriving.
The Spaniard was knocked out in dramatic scenes after taking the first set and leading 3-0 in the second set before opponent Beatriz Haddad Maia came back from the brink to win 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 7-5.
Sorribes Tormo had been riding a wave of good luck after she progressed through to the last 16 following the withdrawal of fourth seed and Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.
She and doubles partner Marie Bouzkova also progressed to the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles draw under hugely controversial circumstances when opponents Miyu Kato and doubles partner Aldila Sutjiadi were sensationally defaulted from the tournament
Sorribes Tormo’s luck ran out on Monday night — and there were plenty fans who took savage enjoyment in watching it.
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Sorribes Tormo and Bouzkova have been slammed across the tennis world for an apparent act of “disgusting sportsmanship”.
The furore erupted after Kato accidentally struck a ballgirl while returning the ball over the net with a gentle backhand.
The ballgirl was left in tears for an extended period of time and was eventually led from the court.
Kato, 28, immediately apologised to the girl.
Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo were seen arguing with the chair umpire and match supervisor calling for their opponents to be defaulted from the tournament.
After an extensive conversation, match officials made a decision to default Kato and Sutjiadi. Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo were seen smiling to each other and shared a laugh as the officials came to their decision.
Sorribes Tormo said after her singles defeat she has been hurt by the heated reaction.
“Well, first of all, it’s a very bad situation that happened yesterday,” she said.
“Also, for Marie and for me it’s tough to have all this kind of things that people are saying.
“It’s not easy because the only thing we’ve done yesterday was going to the referee and explain him what happened.”
She has continued to defend her actions and said she “didn’t do anything bad”.
“We were saying that the ball kid was crying because we were scared, because we were, oh, something happened,” she said in her press conference.
“Then we were saying that the ball was direct because he didn’t saw the ball.
“All the rest the decision was taken by the supervisor, and I think it’s not our thing or we haven’t done anything bad. Yeah, that’s the only thing I’m going to say about this, what happened yesterday.”
After the controversy of the default handed out to Kato and Sitjiadi on Monday morning, the women’s doubles quarter-final between Sorribes Tormo, Bouzkova and opponents Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Aussie Ellen Perez has become a high profile match which will be played first up on Tuesday night from 7pm (AEST).
Sorribes Tormo’s match against Haddad Maia on Court Suzanne Lenglen was the longest WTA match played this year and was just 16 minutes short of being the longest women’s match in Roland Garros history.
Sorribes Tormo won plenty of respect for her fight in the wild third set, but plenty of fans were happy with her exit.
The pleasure angry fans enjoyed watching Sorribes Tormo’s defeat was compounded by Kato’s emotional quarter-final win in the mixed doubles on Tuesday morning.
Kato and partner Tim Puetz are through to the semi-finals after a 7-6 6-2 win over Brazilian pair Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos.
Kato appeared to break down after the match and needed to be consoled by her doubles partner.
The BeTennis Twitter account called it “karma” that Kato’s victory came just hours after Sorribes Tormo’s singles defeat.
“When I came to the site today, many players came over to me saying, keep your head up. We are all supporting you,” Kato said on Tuesday morning.
French tennis great Alize Cornet was one of those.
“Insane decision. I really feel sorry for you, but a lot of players (except Marie and Sara obviously) are supporting you,” Cornet posted on Twitter.
Kato and Sutjiadi lost all ranking points and prixe money of around $70,000 because of the default.
French tennis great Gilles Simon said he hoped Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo struggled to sleep after the ball kid drama on Sunday night.
The storm continued to swirl on Monday morning when Kato posted an official apology.
“This is default”, they said.
The chair umpire replied: “She didn’t do it on purpose, she didn’t get injured.”
Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo said: “But she’s crying. She’s crying.”
A tournament supervisor came out and it was chaos for several minutes as officials tried to work out what was going on.
There was one point in the conversations that Bouzkova admitted she hadn’t seen Kato’s backhand but said people in their players box told them “she hit it fast”.
Replays showed it didn’t look fast at all.
The handshakes at the end of the match were only mildly frosty, but the emotions poured out for Kato as it sunk in.
Kato was seen crying and was consoled by her teammate. She was still crying as she left the court.