Both players and fans have let the umps hear it

Updated: May 29, 2005, 3:40 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PARIS -- Umpires have been taking plenty of verbal abuse at the French Open.

Sebastien Grosjean
Grosjean was one of the players that didn't find the umpiring agreeable.

Damien Steiner of Argentina, the chair umpire for the match Sunday between Rafael Nadal and Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean, was jeered long and loudly, first by Grosjean, then by the center court crowd.

Fans hooted when a linesman ruled a shot by Nadal on the line, helping him win the point for a 1-0 lead in the second set. When Steiner refused to climb down from his chair to check the mark, Grosjean became incensed.

Grosjean finished playing the point instead of immediately stopping to challenge the call and the umpire said because of that, the point could not be challenged. The French crowd, however, never heard an explanation. The Grand Slam supervisor reviews the scorecards at the end of a match but because of the rain delay, it's possible that could not happen until Tuesday.

Jeering by fans delayed play for about 10 minutes, until the boos finally faded when Grosjean made a gesture appealing for quiet. Rain forced suspension of the match until Monday with Nadal leading 6-4, 3-6, 3-0.

Paul-Henri Mathieu got so angry during his two-day loss to Guillermo Canas that he unleashed a verbal tirade -- including expletives -- at umpire Carlos Ramos of Portugal.

The outburst came Saturday evening, with Mathieu two sets down and eager to come off as darkness started to fall.

"I said to him, 'Are you going to tell me when we're going to come off?"' Mathieu said Sunday. "I asked him 10 times, and he didn't answer me. When you're talking to a wall and nothing's coming back, you get angry. That's normal, isn't it?"

Mathieu wasted two match points against Canas after the match had resumed Sunday at 2-2 in the third set. He lost 6-3, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-7 (5), 8-6.

While the defeat irked him, Mathieu was bothered more by Ramos.

"I don't think that's the right attitude from an umpire," he said. "He didn't put himself in the position of a player."

Mathieu has a history of turning a winning situation into a losing one.

At last year's U.S. Open he had two match points against Sargis Sargsian of Armenia but lost in a fifth-set tiebreaker.

"You can always try and play a match point a million times," he said. "But you do get nervous."

In the 2002 Davis Cup final against Russia, the Frenchman was two sets up and coasting in the deciding match against Mikhail Youzhny, but lost in five sets.

Scalpers aplenty
The sound of tennis at Roland Garros includes pitches from scalpers directed toward arriving fans.

"Tickets for sale ... anyone want tickets?" scalpers say in French or patchy English along the Avenue de la Porte d'Auteuil. Others loiter around metro stations, pouncing as soon as fans see daylight.

It is illegal to sell French Open tickets on the black market, but the demand remains high and scalpers can make good money -- as long as they avoid police.

On Friday, center court tickets fetched nearly $400, three times the usual black market price for a third-round match. The showdown between 18-year-olds Richard Gasquet and Rafael Nadal had captured the imagination and prices rocketed upward accordingly.

Scalpers are sometimes caught, and the police are less than friendly.

"Why can't you earn an honest living like everyone else who pays taxes and works hard?" a police officer said as he grabbed hold of one Sunday morning.

"I do ... I normally work as a shopkeeper," the scalper pleaded.

"I don't care what you do or what you think," the officer yelled back. "I never want to see you on these streets selling tickets again. Otherwise I'll book you. Understand?"

No job for Courier
Jim Courier didn't get an invitation to work at this year's French Open.

After providing courtside commentary for Australian TV during the Australian Open, he said no networks asked him to work at Roland Garros.

"Maybe they think I don't know anything about clay-court tennis," Courier told French sports daily L'Equipe.

Courier won the French Open in 1991 and 1992.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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