During a crucial fifth rubber between Canada and Great Britain 17 year old Denis Shapovalov became frustrated and hit a ball hard hoping it would just sail out of the stands without doing any damage. Instead the worst happened: chair umpire Arnaud Gabas took the shot right in his face, his left eye to be precise. Young Shapovalov immediately apologized to M. Gabas not once, but several times. He even posted a public apology on his Twitter account.
Of course it wasn’t intentional on Mr. Shapovalov’s part and I feel his apologies are sincere. I couldn’t help but think about another player who routinely gets frustrated and hits balls in the direction of officials and into the stands yet thinks it’s part of his gimmick and is not worth his apologizing for. He has apologized for screaming at ball kids and once making a ball kid cry but I couldn’t find anything to show that he has apologized for hitting balls into the stands that had the potential to harm. As anyone who has raised a child knows they often operate on a “monkey see monkey do” basis. If the bigger name player had been publicly censored and fined for his actions maybe young Denis cracks his racquet on the ground instead of getting the bright idea of hitting wildly into the stands.
It was also interesting how many in tennis media were calling for the young man to be seriously fined and given a significant suspension. These same people see nothing wrong when another player does the same thing. The last time they were so upset it was for a lines person getting yelled at by a player for a foot fault.
I’m sure he will be fined. Will he be suspended from Davis Cup for a bit? I’m not privy to behind the scenes machinations between the ITF and probably Tennis Canada especially since Shapovalov has a potentially winning game and look about him that Federation desperately needs.
Let the punishment fit the crime is all I’m saying. It’s never a drivers intention to hit a pedestrian but if it happens there is punishment to be meted out. The infraction was serious. Let’s see if tennis has the cojones to make the punishment significant enough to deter any tennis player regardless of rank from hitting a ball out of the arena.
UPDATE: Russell Fuller @russellcfuller 2h2 hours ago
Denis Shapovalov will be fined $7000 by the referee: maximum fine of $12000 would only have applied had his actions been deemed intentional
Russell Fuller @russellcfuller 2h2 hours ago
ITF confirm no further action is anticipated against Shapovalov, and add there’s no damage to umpire Gabas’ cornea or retina
Russell Fuller @russellcfuller 1h1 hour ago
Heather Watson was fined $12k (& Serena $10k) for smashing racquets into Wimbledon’s turf last year
Potential consequences much greater here
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