Watch: 'Disgusting' sportsmanship sparks outrage as Hungary tennis star's poor on-court act leave Zhang Shuai in tears

Jul 19, 2023 01:19 PM IST

Hungary's Amarissa Kiara Toth was criticised for her ‘unsportsmanlike’ behaviour during her match against Zhang Shuai.

Huge controversy struck the Budapest Open on Tuesday in the match between Shuai Zhang and Amarissa Kiara Toth, as the Chinese top-50 player was forced to retire from the match after breaking down on court. The events in Budapest have led to massive criticism of the umpiring and the hesitance of clay court tournaments to adopt line-calling technology, but the main story of the match was the poor sportsmanship on display by Toth.

Amarissa Kiara Toth removes the mark made by the ball, leaving Zheng Shuai shocked(Twitter)
Amarissa Kiara Toth removes the mark made by the ball, leaving Zheng Shuai shocked(Twitter)

The controversy began at 5-5, 15-15 on Zhang’s serve, when a forehand from the Chinese player landed very close to the sideline but was called out. The chair umpire went over to check the mark of the ball on the clay court, but Zhang pointed out that she had checked the wrong mark on court.

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A long debate between the player and the umpire would follow, with Zhang shocked that the umpire wouldn’t listen to her regarding the call she made. While some tournaments have taken up FoxTenn’s Real Bounce technology for line-calling, others continue to rely on the referee’s discretion.

However, the controversy continued to rear its head, Another tight call at 30-30 was followed by Toth walking up to the mark of the ball and wiping it away, despite Zhang calling out from across the court, “Wait wait wait wait wait, leave the mark!”

The 20-year-old Hungarian wildcard had earlier also been spotted by the cameras laughing at the situation, and in combination with her deplorable sportsmanship in removing the mark, has received heated criticism from all over the tennis world for her actions.

Players are obligated to leave marks on the court, as removing them with the racket or foot (something done not to confuse that particular mark with other marks later in the match) is seen as an admission of that player having lost the point. However, in Toth’s case, the intentions for the same remain contentious. The Hungary player was slammed for her actions on social media.

Zhang was overwhelmed by the moment despite hanging on to serve, and would break down into tears following the sequence of events. Matters were made worse for Zhang by the crowd jeering her debate with the referee. The Chinese player has struggled with mental health and spoken about it in the past, causing many fans to wonder whether her reaction was linked to that as well.

The Chinese player decided to retire by shaking hands with the referee and her opponent, who immediately raise her arms in celebration — another instance of classlessness by the Hungarian, who was called out for her immature and unempathetic behaviour on Twitter by several users:

Zhang’s colleagues on the WTA tour have come out in support of the player, with Australians Daria Gavrilova, Ajla Tomljanovic, and Ellen Perez writing on Twitter. Perez was forthright about her disgust at Toth’s actions, writing “Well that’s a quick way to lose respect from your peers. I’m actually shook by the level of disrespect from this girl. If I see this girl tomorrow I will tell her how disgusted I am.”

Gavrilova simply tweeted “This is so so so so so so wrong,” while Tomljanovic pointed out that Zhang stands in contrast to Toth as one of the nicest and most classy players on tour: “Absolutely disgusting behavior. Shuai is a better person than a lot of us for shaking the ref and that girls hand. But then again it’s Shuai we are talking about, [of course] she did.”

Zhang herself tweeted after the conclusion of her match, but directed her grievances at the refereeing rather than the actions of her opponent. “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 my side,” wrote Zhang.


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