Busted Racquet - Tennis

Look closely at the picture above. If you squint closely you can see No. 13 seed Gael Monfils of France standing in the foreground while serving to Italy's Fabio Fognini. Squint even closer and you might be able to find the ball Monfils was tossing into the air.

It was after 9:50 p.m. Wednesday in France and the pair were playing the fifth set of a bizarre second-round match at the French Open. A few minutes later, after Monfils saved three match points, play was suspended for darkness. The ball had barely been visible for the previous two games.

Sound crazy enough yet? That's only the beginning. Here's a look at the five most ridiculous moments from the Gael Monfils-Fabio Fognini match:

1. A tournament referee evidently halted the match and then reconsidered when pressed by Monfils. With darkness enveloping the court at Philippe Chatrier, rules official Stefan Fransson looked set to halt the match at 4-4. It made perfect sense. The match was square, it was almost too dark to see and every other match at Roland Garros had been stopped.

But after a brief discussion with the chair umpire and Monfils (Fognini initially stood near the baseline), Fransson determined that the players would play two more games. Then: chaos. Fognini refused to play, the French fans jeered and, six minutes after Fransson stepped onto the court, play had yet to resume. It was too dark when the discussion began. Six minutes later conditions were unplayable.

2. Fognini received a point penalty for delay of game before serving at 4-4. The delay was initially caused by Fransson's indecision but it was elongated by Fognini's defiance. Buoyed by his coach who was making a "don't play" gesture, Fognini stalled in an attempt to make Fransson reconsider. (At least that's our guess. None of this really makes any sense.) This riled up the partisan French crowd even more, which in turn gave Fognini another reason not to line up to serve. After what seemed like an eternity, the chair umpire finally gave Fognini a point penalty, which made him begin his serve down 0-15.

3. The match only went so long because Monfils choked away a two-set lead. Note to all you junior players out there: There's no need to force drop shots when you have a comfortable lead. Monfils inexplicably kept trying to run Fognini to the net while up two sets despite the fact that most of the drop shots had one of two outcomes: Fognini either got to it or Monfils hit an unforced error. The Italian is known as a player who folds when he gets down in matches. Giving him hope was the biggest mistake Monfils made all day. (Well, until he asked for the match to be prolonged.)

4. Fognini then choked away three match points after the chaos while Monfils was cramping. The Italian won his serve to go up 5-4 and then went up 40-15 on Monfils' serve. Monfils could barely move due to cramping and hobbled around the court. On his serve he stayed flat-footed and looked as if he was serving a volleyball in middle school gym class instead of in a Grand Slam tennis match. He was lucky nobody could see well enough to do anything but try to get the ball in play because if Fognini had run him even a little, it was doubtful he'd have been able to get to anything. Despite his ailments, Monfils prevailed on his serve due to three Fognini unforced errors on match points. 

5. Sunset in Paris was at 9:40 p.m. on Wednesday evening. The match was halted at 9:56 p.m. local time. Patrick McEnroe, Pam Shriver and Darren Cahill said it was the darkest conditions they had ever seen at a professional tennis match. It was so dark outside that the Shot Spot technology wasn't working because there were no shadows with which to gauge the positioning of the ball. 

Other popular stories on Yahoo! Sports:
Shaq looking for shot at UFC bout
Soccer player worried about home sickness
Hockey team about to go Hollywood

digg delicious
More

291 Comments

Post a Comment
  1. Daniel J
    1. Posted by Daniel J Wed May 26, 2010 6:00 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    This appears to be a clear case of "home-cooking" by the French Open officials in this match. Monfils was clearly hurting, and it seemed as though he didn't think that he would be able to go the next day. He wanted it to end that day, so he could recover the next day. So the officials made Fognini play in almost complete darkness.
    There were many times in the last 2 games where it was obvious that the players could not see the ball coming back at them, so they lightly hit the ball directly to each other. It began to look like 2 players, in pain, warming up for a match. It was not the right call by the official, and it was in no way entertaining for tennis fans.
    Watching the match live, it was clear that the official was influenced by Monfils and the roudy french crowd. He is there to make a decision in the best interest of the match and the tournament. He clearly did not do that. This is a black eye for the French Open.
  2. Gene
    2. Posted by Gene Wed May 26, 2010 6:25 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    Definitely a dumb and unprofessional officiating.
  3. triplehdx123
    3. Posted by triplehdx123 Wed May 26, 2010 6:31 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    Fabio(nice name btw) made it worse by delaying the match even further
  4. Sergio
    4. Posted by Sergio Wed May 26, 2010 6:33 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    So, what's new?????
    Maybe Monfils should be playing for the French Soccer team....! That is how they got to the world cup.
    Fognini: you should have faked an injury. Do not get me wrong but, sometime, when you deal with cheaters, you need to use yr
    "cocuzza". Tranlation: brains.
  5. Becca
    5. Posted by Becca Wed May 26, 2010 6:35 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    that was an incredible match so far. definitely entertaining to watch. I was bitting my nails when Monfils was down the first two match points while cramping
  6. Joseph
    6. Posted by Joseph Wed May 26, 2010 6:35 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    Luckily it was only a tennis match.
  7. Jack R
    7. Posted by Jack R Wed May 26, 2010 6:36 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    Fire the umpire. What an idiot.
  8. Sean
    8. Posted by Sean Wed May 26, 2010 6:37 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    Actually, Tsonga would be considered France's top player, ranking-wise.
  9. Jonathan
    9. Posted by Jonathan Wed May 26, 2010 6:38 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    If I was playing tennis I would want the lights on too.
  10. Scott
    10. Posted by Scott Wed May 26, 2010 6:38 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    lights?????? ever heard of them???
  11. Jennifer
    11. Posted by Jennifer Wed May 26, 2010 6:40 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    Fognini had a chance to say stop playing, and by the way, his coaches were telling him to, he should have stopped it then! Of course it was unbelieveable, the official shouldn't have given them (the players) a choice to begin with, but we are dealing with the French afterall! And who didn't see Monfils saying of course we play, the crowd was obvious!!
  12. rotarooter
    12. Posted by rotarooter Wed May 26, 2010 6:40 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    Mofils is a dirty player. I've seen him play in person. He is very talented, but will pull all sorts of crap to win a match.
  13. Riz
    13. Posted by Riz Wed May 26, 2010 6:42 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    Shocking...a European being a baby. Waaaah, I can't see the ball. Shut up and play.
  14. rudy d
    14. Posted by rudy d Wed May 26, 2010 6:43 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    Where is the Light up nerf tennis ball when you need it!
  15. dadgum
    15. Posted by dadgum Wed May 26, 2010 6:44 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    if play cannot be under conditions where both players can see clearly every aspect of the game then play should be resumed when they can see every aspect of the game because eyesight is a vital thing in most sports
  16. Makayla
    16. Posted by Makayla Wed May 26, 2010 6:44 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    I watched this on tv with my host mom earlier. At first the Italian guy said he would play, then changed his mind and kept arguing. That's why they made him start down 0-15. That's what the whole thing is about.
  17. Justin
    17. Posted by Justin Wed May 26, 2010 6:44 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    The French have moved from surrendering to cheating... that's a plus I guess.
  18. Booger
    18. Posted by Booger Wed May 26, 2010 6:45 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    apparently, they can't afford lights?!?
  19. Cerebus
    19. Posted by Cerebus Wed May 26, 2010 6:45 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    I was watching the coverage live - every other match had been stopped. There was no reason to continue this one, especially with it tied 4-4. The blame falls on the official who let the players (or player, clearly) decide. The crowd was getting on him and he made a mistake in judgment. I guarantee you the next time this happens he'll just walk out and stop the match.
  20. Paul
    20. Posted by Paul Wed May 26, 2010 6:45 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    Seriously, do they not have lights?! You'd think a reporter would at least address the cause of the pitch blackness that made playing the match impossible.
  21. Cerebus
    21. Posted by Cerebus Wed May 26, 2010 6:46 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    Oh yeah, and does anybody else find it ironic that in "the City of Lights" they don't have any at their world famous tennis complex?
  22. ayercache
    22. Posted by ayercache Wed May 26, 2010 6:47 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    Just eliminate them both. Neither will make much noise the rest of the way.
  23. TJ
    23. Posted by TJ Wed May 26, 2010 6:47 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    I was so mad!!! Terrible officiating! I felt bad for Fabio, the crowd was obnoxious. I hope he mops the floor with Monfils tomorrow.
  24. baldeep s
    24. Posted by baldeep s Wed May 26, 2010 6:48 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    Go Monfilis
  25. Capt Klutz
    25. Posted by Capt Klutz Wed May 26, 2010 6:50 pm EDT

    Report Abuse

    The march of the Clowns!!

Busted Racquet

Add to My Yahoo! RSS

Chris Chase

Busted Racquet is a tennis blog edited by Chris Chase. Email him, and follow him on Twitter.

Contributors:

Related Photo Gallery

Y! Sports Blog

Yahoo! Sports Blog Recent Readers