French Open star slapped with £20k fine after hitting fan with ball | Tennis | Sport

Terence Atmane has been hit with the biggest fine of the French Open so far after he smashed a ball into the stands in frustration and unintentionally hit a spectator on Sunday.

The French wildcard somehow avoided a disqualification after a 15-minute delay, which saw the umpire and the supervisor discuss the matter with Atmane and with the fan in question.

Atmane went on to lose to Sebastian Ofner in five sets. And he has now been fined £19,650 (€25,000) for the incident.

Atmane was a double-break down at 1-4 in the fourth set of his first-round match when frustrations boiled over.

The world No. 121 won the first two sets but lost the third to the Austrian. After blowing an opening with a 15-30 lead on his rival’s serve, he fired a ball in the direction of the Court 12 stands.

It hit a woman watching and Ofner argued that his opponent should be defaulted. But Atmane was given a code violation and allowed to keep playing. World No. 45 Ofner went on to win 3-6 4-6 7-6(2) 6-2 7-5.

The French Open has now issued its list of on-site fines for the qualifying rounds and the first five days of the tournament. And Atmane has been billed £20k (€25k) – the biggest financial penalty by far, with the second-biggest fine coming in at £3,140 (€4,000).

During the on-court discussions, it transpired that the ball had hit the spectator in the leg, but that she had seen the ball coming in her direction. Ofner later claimed that he was told this meant there was no reason for a disqualification.

“The referee said, ‘Oh, yeah, I was talking with the lady. The lady said at the beginning it was hurting but now it’s fine, and everything was okay. She saw the ball coming. So it’s not enough for disqualification,’” he explained. “I think if he would see how it was, maybe he would decide different. A little bit more unlucky and it’s going directly in the face. And then something can happen [like] a broken nose or whatever.”

Atmane later released a lengthy statement on his Instagram story, admitting that he hit the ball in a moment of frustration. “Of course the first reflex would have been to go and apologise but so shocked and disoriented by my action that no reaction came to my mind… like a blackout or my brain switch off and I don’t think about anything anymore,” he explained.

The 22-year-old said he had also been trying to work on managing his stress in recent months. Atmane also revealed that he was searching for the spectator to apologise and would be happy to accept any financial penalty. He continued: ” This gesture that you must have surely seen turned on the media was not intentional, please forgive me for my burst of emotion and above all I would like to apologise personally to the lady I am currently looking for with my agent and the tournament organisers to be able to tell him straight in the eye and offer him one of my signed rackets (If she accepts the proposal of course).

“I will assume the financial consequences of my actions with the tournament. It is with tears in my eyes that I write this text because I am an extremely sensitive person and finding myself in this kind of situation affects me deeply… I sincerely hope my message will be heard..”

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