Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Tennis

Shapovalov learns lesson after striking umpire's face

By Eleanor Crooks

Denis Shapovalov has been fined $7,000 (£5,623) for his reckless actions in Great Britain's Davis Cup victory over Canada, the International Tennis Federation have announced.

The 17-year-old Canadian smashed a ball in anger during the third set of the deciding rubber against Kyle Edmund, hitting umpire Arnaud Gabas in the eye, and was immediately defaulted.

Shapovalov could have been fined up to a maximum of $12,000 on site by referee Brian Earley but the unintentional nature of the offence and his remorse will have been taken into account.

The ITF could take further action, imposing a larger fine or even a ban, but a spokesman for the governing body said no additional punishment is anticipated.

Gabas was taken to Ottawa General Hospital as a precaution but no damage to the cornea or retina was found. He will see his personal eye doctor in France today for a further examination.

The fine is less than that handed to David Nalbandian following the Queen's Club final in 2012, when the Argentinian was defaulted after kicking an advertising hoarding into the leg of a line judge and penalised $10,000 - along with his prize money and ranking points.

It will undoubtedly be a big lesson for Shapovalov, the reigning Wimbledon junior champion and one of the brightest young talents in the game.

He immediately apologised to Gabas and then sat with his head in his hands while the umpire composed himself sufficiently to announce the end of the match, sending Great Britain through to an away quarter-final against France in April.

An emotional Shapovalov said: "I feel incredibly ashamed and embarrassed and I just feel awful for letting my team down, for letting my country down, for acting in a way that I would never want to act.

"I can promise that's the last time I will do anything like that. I'm going to learn from this and try to move past it.''

The force with which Shapovalov hit the ball was extraordinary - had it missed the umpire it may well have hit someone in the crowd - but it is not the first time in recent months a player has pushed the limits.

Novak Djokovic may well have been defaulted at the French Open last year had a line judge not moved to dodge a racket he bounced off the court in anger.

The World No.2 was then involved in an exchange with a reporter after being asked about an incident at the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November where he hit a ball into the stands.

Andy Murray, meanwhile, kicked a ball in frustration in Cincinnati last summer that nearly hit the umpire.

Canada captain Martin Laurendeau admitted players tread a fine line. He said: "The codes are out there, it's up to the officials to implement abuse of balls, abuse of rackets.

"There's grey lines. You can smack a ball between line judges and if you don't hit anyone you're okay, you can continue, but if you hit his leg or an arm then it's an automatic default."

The Shapovalov incident almost certainly did not change the outcome of the tie, with Edmund leading 6-3 6-4 2-1 and seemingly on his way to victory.

But it was not the way Britain wanted it to be decided and was a shame for Edmund, who handled a potentially difficult situation with great aplomb.

The 22-year-old fought back tears after his display against Vasek Pospisil on Friday, which he branded "pretty dismal", and had never played a deciding rubber in the Davis Cup before.

But he showed no nerves and defused the power and exuberance of Shapovalov expertly.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal is to play at this summer's Aegon Championships at Queen's Club.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion was forced to pull out last year because of the wrist injury that dogged him in 2016 but showed with his run to the Australian Open final that he is still a force to be reckoned with.

When sports stars and officials clash

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov earned himself a place in sport’s rogues’ gallery when he left tennis umpire Arnaud Gabas with a black eye after smashing a ball at him in anger.

   Here, we take a look at other officials who have found themselves in the firing line.


Premier League referee Paul Alcock waded into an escalating situation when he stepped in to intervene as combustible Sheffield Wednesday star Di Canio became embroiled in a bust-up with Arsenal duo Martin Keown and Patrick Vieira in September 1998. The Italian pushed the official to the ground after being shown a red card and later accused him of going down too easily, landing himself an 11-game ban and a £10,000 fine.


Referee John Coyle got more than he bargained for when he attempted to prevent challenger Lou Savarese from taking unnecessary punishment at the hands of former undisputed World heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. Coyle was knocked to the canvas by Tyson as he tried to stop the fight in the first round at Hampden Park in June 2000.


Cuban taekwondo fighter Angel Matos was banned for life after kicking Swedish judge Chakir Chelbat in the head at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Matos was disqualified from the +80kg bronze medal bout and after a heated exchange, pushed the match referee and then kicked out at Chelbat before being dragged away.


Argentinian rugby player Bruno Andres Doglioli was suspended by his club and earned a three-year ban when he inexplicably tackled referee Maria Beatrice Benvenuti, who was facing the opposite direction, while playing for Vicenza against Valsugana in Italy in 2016. Benvenuti gave Doglioli a yellow card, but was later treated in hospital for whiplash.


David Nalbandian’s frustration took over in the 2012 Aegon Championship final at Queen’s against Marin Cilic. The Argentinian kicked an advertising panel in front of line judge Andrew McDougall, cutting the official’s shin. He got a £6,400 fine and lost his £36,500 prize money.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph