Denis Shapovalov has been fined $7,000 by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after a spare ball he hit in frustration struck umpire Arnaud Gabas in the face.
The 1- year-old’s loss of cool led to Canada forfeiting the decisive 1st round World Group Davis Cup rubber with Great Britain in Ottawa. Britain advanced to a second round tie with France courtesy of a 3–2 victory.
“I turned and saw the official bending down holding his eye. From that moment on I was in complete shock”, Shapovalov said.
“I just feel awful for letting my team down, for letting my country down and for acting in a way that I would never want to act.”
The tie was level at 2–2 after world number 131 Vasek Pospisil had upset Britain’s Dan Evans, setting up the deciding showdown between Shapovalov and Kyle Edmund. But trailing 6–3, 6–4 Shapovalov sent a backhand wide, an unforced error that caused his serve to be broken and hand Edmund a 2–1 lead in the third set.
As he turned to walk off the court the 251st world ranked player took a spare ball from his pocket and hit it wildly in frustration, accidentally striking Gabas in the eye. Match referee Brian Earley swiftly disqualified Shapovalov, gifting Britain the tie.
“He must learn the lesson and hope it serves him in the rest of his career”—Martin laurendeau
According to an ITF statement, the player sought out Gabas in the referee’s office to apologise. The umpire was taken to hospital for tests but suffered no lasting damage from the incident.
“Luckily he was okay but obviously it’s unacceptable behaviour from me”, Shapovalov remarked.
“I’m going to learn from this.”
Martin Laurendeau, Canada’s Davis Cup captain, claimed “Emotional control is the biggest factor in this game.
“He [Shapovalov] must learn the lesson and hope it serves him in the rest of his career.”
Team-mate Pospisil, whose heroic four-set victory against Evans—84 places above him in the ATP rankings, had forced the tie in to a deciding rubber was quick to defend the 2016 Wimbledon junior champion.
“Everyone can see today was an accident. [It] can happen to anyone”, he said.
The ITF confirmed Shapovalov had been fined for “unsportsmanlike conduct” but ruled out taking further action.
A statement read, “Shapovalov did not intend to hit Mr Gabas and personally apologised to him after the incident. No further action is anticipated.”
“It was a strange way to finish”, said the victorious Edmund. “I was pleased how I was going about the match.”
His captain, Leon Smith, echoed those sentiments. “It is a surprise what happened at the end there and it is a shame”, he said. “But Kyle was fantastic.
“It was a great performance.”
–Alistair Sargent, Correspondent (Sport)