Sebastian Ofner’s Comeback Victory at French Open Amid Controversy

On Sunday, Sebastian Ofner won a first-round match at the French Open that was already thought to be lost. The 28-year-old from Styria defeated the Frenchman Terence Atmane 3:6, 4:6, 7:6(2), 6:2, 7:5 after 3 hours and 35 minutes. The match should have ended in the middle of the fourth set with the Frenchman being disqualified after he hit a spectator with the ball. However, he was given a warning.

Atmane shoots ball into the crowd

It was a scene that will be discussed for a long time. With the score at 4:1 for Ofner, Atmane threw a frustrated punch at the crowd after a lost rally, hitting a spectator on the kneecap. According to the rules, the match should have ended early. First the referee, then the head referee, who only rushed over after a few minutes, spoke to the “victim,” and then Ofner’s opinion was also sought. To the incomprehension of many, the 121st in the world rankings, who did not apologize for his actions, was allowed to continue the match.

“I thought it should have been over, he shot 250 straight into the crowd. The penalties in the Challengers are crazy and in a Grand Slam he does something like that and is not punished. It’s difficult to understand. Either you have limits or you don’t. If you do something like that, you should be punished for it,” said Ofner in an interview with ServusTV. Continuing to play was not a problem for him despite the interruption. “But there have to be rules somewhere.”

Since Ofner prevailed in the end, the whole thing had a fair ending. “I’m mega-happy now, it was a really good win,” said the right-hander on the court after midnight. For two and a half sets, he had put in one of the worst performances of the season. “But somehow I played my way into it and turned a crazy match around,” said the world number 45. “It was one of the biggest matches I’ve ever turned around.” Austria’s number one will face either the number 20 seeded Argentinian Sebastian Baez or the Brazilian qualifier Gustavo Heide as his next opponent.

Ofner in the round of 16 at the French Open

Ofner can watch the Monday duel between the two in peace from the stands. By reaching the round of 16 in 2023, the ÖTV ace has a lot of points to defend at Roland Garros. This also played a role in the first game in the unusual role of favorite here. “I think everything worked together. After I played the fourth round here last year from the qualification, there is now a lot of pressure, there are a lot of points to defend. To confirm that again is really difficult. In general, I was also relatively nervous at the beginning and he is also a very unpleasant player and I couldn’t find my way,” explained Ofner.

Due to a rain interruption, Austria’s number one had to start late at 8:15 p.m. and on a different court than the one previously planned. Court 12 turned out to be a poor surface. Atmane managed the first break to make it 3-1, held on to this advantage and converted his first set point after 31 minutes. Symptomatic of a slight backhand error by the ÖTV player.

In the second set, Ofner was able to make up a 0:40 deficit at 1:1, but the local hero took advantage of break chance number four. The underdog took his opponent’s serve again to make it 4:1. At that point, the game was completely out of Ofner’s control, but he seemed to be able to find his way back with his first break to make it 2:4, a game to zero to make it 3:4 and another break to make it 4:4. Atmane hit the ground with his racket after a double fault and also kicked an advertising board, but this gave him a boost again.

After what was probably the longest rally of the match, the Frenchman broke to make it 5:4 and then served out. The third set began as badly as possible with a double fault that led to a loss of serve. Atmane was able to fend off a break chance from the Austrian with a strong serve when he was 3:2 ahead. At 4:3, the underdog’s nerves were shaking and he had to accept the 4:4 with a slight forehand error. In the end, the tiebreak had to decide, in which a net roller to make it 2:1 for Ofner initiated the turnaround in the match.

Tennis thriller after scandal

Wolfgang Thiem’s ​​protégé used the second set point to make it 7:2, took the momentum and quickly pulled ahead to 4:0 with a double break. After the scandalous action and a break of more than ten minutes, Ofner stayed cool and used his second set point. The deciding set was on a knife edge. After a break for Ofner and a rebreak to make it 2:2, the serve continued until 5:5. Then Ofner decisively took the serve from his opponent and served out.

(Those: APA)

2024-05-27 07:16:15
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