David Nalbandian loses his cool and blows chance of Queen’s victory
David Nalbandian could be up to £43,000 out of pocket after being dramatically disqualified from the final of the AEGON Championships at Queen’s for kicking an advertising board at a line judge.
Nalbandian won the first set of his final against Marin Cilic on centre court but then lost his temper in the second set in outrageous fashion.
The Argentine, a professional of 12 years, was broken in the seventh game and responded by kicking an advertising hoarding that was in front of the chair of line judge Andrew McDougall.
The plywood board came off its hinges and ploughed straight in to McDougall’s shin, causing an inch-long gash from which blood began to pour.
ATP supervisor Tom Barnes came on to the court and ordered the match to Cilic, much to the annoyance of the 6,000 paying crowd members, who booed the decision loudly.
According to the ATP, Nalbandian is the first man to be defaulted in a final since records started being kept in 1980.
Barnes confirmed afterwards Nalbandian would not receive his £36,500 runner-up prize, and that he also faces a fine of up to £6,400 for the incident.
“It was unsportsmanlike conduct. Once I saw the injury, I didn’t have any other option,” Barnes said. “With the default it’s automatic that you lose the ranking points, and you lose the prize money from the tournament, hospitality costs, and he’s subject to a fine which can be up to 10,000 US dollars, and that is undetermined at the moment.”
Nalbandian apologised to McDougall immediately afterwards, but followed it up with an on-court tirade against the ATP, which could earn him yet another fine.
“I feel very sorry for the guy. I didn’t want to do that,” Nalbandian, 30, said. “But sometimes you get angry. Sometimes you cannot control moments and that kind of thing happens.
“When I hit the panel I didn’t want to do it as bad as that. I thought it was bad. I didn’t realise how bad it was until I saw him, and that’s why I stayed and asked him if he was okay. Sometimes you get very frustrated on court. It’s a tough moment to end a final like that but sometimes we feel so much pressure from the ATP playing so many tournaments.
“At the beginning of the year you have to sign an agreement with the ATP that says you have to agree with everything they say. Sometimes you don’t agree. If you don’t want to sign, you cannot play ATP tournaments.”
It is not the first time that Nalbandian has been in trouble with the authorities this year. Nalbandian, who was bidding to become the first player from Argentina to win an ATP grass court title since Javier Frana triumphed in Nottingham in 1995, was making his first appearance in a grass court final since 2002 when he got to the last two at Wimbledon, was fined £5,400 for throwing water at a staff member at the Australian Open in January.
Fans were outraged at yesterday’s decision, booing tournament officials when they handed the prizes out to both players in clear revolt.
Tournament director Chris Kermode defended the decision to cut the final short and punish Nalbandian, insisting that rules had to be obeyed. He explained: “David Nalbandian ran across and in frustration kicked the panel out from underneath the line judge. It splintered and went into his leg and cut it, leaving him quite seriously injured.
“To have the match ending this way is extremely disappointing but there isn’t much we can do about it. Rules are rules. We are under the governance of ATP rules.
“We have this great crowd and great final and you’d like to think you can bend the rules but I can see from their [ATP’s] point of view it’s difficult because you [can’t] allow a precedent here.”
Kermode added: “[Andrew] has been taken up to the medical centre. David is feeling terrible, about what he did and how it happened.”
There was no hint that the match would end in such circumstances at the beginning, with Nalbandian cruising to a first-set tie-break win after breaking his opponent twice.
It was Cilic’s comeback in the second set that unnerved the former world No 3 and the new Queen’s champion admits he sensed that his opponent was feeling tense.
“He threw his racket down a couple of times in the beginning of the second set, so I felt I had to squeeze a bit more and try to push my game on a higher level and not give him much,” Cilic said. “That’s not the way I would have liked to win it. He didn’t mean to do it. It just happened.”
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