July 18, 2023 | 20:44
The Hungarian Grand Prix has seen better days.
A tight match between shuai zhang – World No. 45 and the second seed in the tournament – and Amarissa Kiara Toth, an unseeded Hungarian challenger, took a turn for the worse after a flagrant missed call from the referee on Tuesday.
After Zhang’s forehand cross was penalized with the match tied at five games in the first set despite the ball catching a clear part of the line, the Chinese player immediately protested.
“No way!” She called the referee. “That ball is in play.”
Zhang was booed by the crowd and eventually fired, resulting in her retirement due to a panic attack: Tennis journalist José Morgado tweeted that Zhang had recently admitted that she was struggling with her mental health.
Meanwhile, Toth was totally unsympathetic and erased the mark the ball had left as Zhang protested and raised her arms in victory after her teary-eyed Chinese opponent withdrew due to a panic attack.
Zhang appeared to point angrily at the crowd as he withdrew, as the Hungarian audience cheered his defeat, rooting for home favorite Toth.
“Absolutely disgusting behaviour”, US Open 2022 quarterfinalist Alja Tomljanovic tweeted. “Shuai is a better person than many of us for greeting the referee and that girl’s hand. But then again, it’s Shuai we’re talking about, ofc she did it.”
Zhang, 34, was a Wimbledon quarterfinalist in 2019 but has not advanced beyond that stage at any major tournament.
The Chinese player has three individual titles throughout her career.
Toth is ranked No. 548 in the world and has never qualified for a Grand Slam or won a singles title on the WTA Tour.
“This is so heartbreaking, he called the physio and I think he just couldn’t handle the pressure and feelings when he started crying so he withdrew from the match,” a fan wrote on Twitter of Zhang’s withdrawal.
“Crowd reaction and especially Toth, loss for words.”