Tennis organisers accuse China of 'manipulating the world' after player erases ball mark in 'new low for sportsmanship'

21 July 2023, 07:33

Zhang was furious with Toth when the latter erased a mark on the clay court
Zhang was furious with Toth when the latter erased a mark on the clay court. Picture: Social media

By Will Taylor

Hungarian organisers of a tennis tournament have accused China of "manipulating the world" after a competitor wiped out a ball mark during a controversial line call.

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Amarissa Toth, from Hungary, scraped the clay surface with her foot as her Chinese competitor wanted to check if the ball was in or out.

It was derided as a "new low for sportsmanship" and giants of the sport lined up to criticise the 20-year-old.

Zhang Shuai was outraged and went on to retire from the game.

The organisers of the Budapest Open later said on Facebook: "Amarissa did not decide if the ball was good or not.

"It was the decision of the linesman and then the chair umpire. The Hungarian tennis player in the first WTA main draw match of her life may not have behaved in every situation, but she did nothing that could be described as a lack of integrity.

Read more: 'New low for sportsmanship': Chinese player leaves court in tears after opponent erased ball mark on disputed line call

"And there is no deflection, no misunderstanding. The Chinese are manipulating the world with a manipulative video."

During Toth v Zhang, the latter's shot was called out. Zhang protested for several minutes before the match resumed.

Read more: Princess of Wales consoles Ons Jabeur after Wimbledon final defeat to unseeded Marketa Vondrousova

A tournament supervisor was eventually brought in and Toth erased the mark with her foot.

Zhang shouted: "Wait, wait, wait, keep the mark! What are you doing? Why would you do that?"

Toth erased the mark with her foot
Toth erased the mark with her foot. Picture: Social media

She went on to win the game but ended up retiring from the match, breaking down in tears afterward.

Toth even celebrated as her opponent quit.

Ons Jabeur, who reached the Wimbledon final last weekend, said Toth's behaviour was "not acceptable" while Australian star Ajla Tomljanovic said it was "disgusting".

The Hungarian player said "I did not think that my first ever WTA main draw success of my career would cause such a storm.

"I am extremely sorry for what happened, I respect Zhang Shuai as a player and as a person. It was never my intention to disrespect, hurt or upset anybody, let alone Zhang Shuai.

Zhang was furious at the erasure
Zhang was furious at the erasure. Picture: Social media

"I do realise I shouldn’t have celebrated the way I celebrated after the match and I’m sorry for that. I was acting in the heat of the match and got caught up by my emotions and the moment.

"I focused on tennis, I didn’t want to win like that. I hope that in the future I will have the opportunity to sit down and talk with Zhang Shuai and tell her how badly I feel that our match ended this way."

Zhang said on social media: "All efforts on practice was wrong, because when you wanted hitting closer to the line, even touched the line still OUT.

"I love you guys and all girls who supporting me and standing (by) my side."

The Women's Tennis Association is investigating.

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