<
>

Both players and fans have let the umps hear it

5/29/2005

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

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.

Comments