In a bizarre ending to the AEGON Championship final at Queens Club, Argentine, David Nalbandian was disqualified for unintentionally injuring a linesman.
This was a highly anticipated final. At the age of 30, Nalbandian, an outstanding player with an exceptional return of serve, had seemed to roll back the clock some and played virtually flawless tennis to reach the finals.
Fans were anxious to see if the crafty veteran could negate the power of the younger, big serving Croation, Marin Cilic.
Nalbandian took the first set in a tight tiebreak. While serving at 3-3 in the second, he chased a return hit wide to his right. His momentum carried him a few steps short of a Nike barrier around the feet of a linesman. Having failed to convert the shot, out of frustration, he kicked the wooden barrier.
Either the barrier was of flimsy construction or Nalbandian has a foot of concrete. Whichever, the barrier couldn’t withstand the assault and gave way. A piece of it struck the linesman on the shin breaking the skin and drawing blood.
It didn’t appear to be a mortal injury but the linesman stood, limped away a few steps and rolled up his pant leg to reveal the bloody abrasion.
He seized the moment and turned towards the gallery of fans revealing the dastardly deed that had been perpetrated upon his left shin.
Oh the horror…the horror!
While I didn’t see anyone actually swoon over the site of blood gushing from the gaping wound (actually just trickling a bit from the scrape), looks of shock clearly registered on the faces of some while others, pleased with the unusual ruckus, smiled delightedly.
The “smilers” were bent forward trying to get a better look at the tragedy while the official hopped about a bit with the, WTF! (what the f**k) look on his face.
I suppose I qualified as a smiler, not because of the injury to the official but because of the hilarity of the scene in it’s entirety.
I mean, where the hell were the trainers who sprint onto court, medical rucksacks in tow, when called because a player needs a quick rubdown for a cramp, band aid for a blister or just needs to buy some time when he/she is losing.
It was a great opportunity for a trainer to perform a bit of medical wizardry by quickly cleaning and dressing the wound and, for Christ’s sake, pulling that man’s pant leg back down to conceal the ravaged shin.
An intervention of that nature could quite possibly have saved the day.
The official would have been hailed as a hero for withstanding the bloody offense, the trainer a hero for tending to the wounded and the gallery thrilled to have seen a mauling at a tennis match but then completion of the contest.
Instead, Nalbandian was immediately disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Cilic was declared the winner.
The crowd booed.
I wondered if they were booing the disqualification which meant they didn’t get to see anymore of what was developing into a great final, Nalbandian for the attack, the linesman for rolling up his pant leg and turning towards the gallery to reveal the nasty gash or the announcement that the match was over.
I do not condone Nalbandian’s actions. But I’m sure he didn’t intend to inflict injury and was visibly shaken himself at the unfortunate accident.
He could be seen apologizing to the official and showing concern for the severity of the wound.
Again I thought, “Is there a doctor in the house?”
“Hello…trainer, where are you?”
I dunno. I guess I just thought it was a salvageable situation. The official’s leg could have been bandaged, another cheap, useless plywood barrier brought out, a code violation issued to Nalbandian and the match decided by play rather than disqualification.
Fans would also have had a helluva great story to tell of “The Bloody Day at The Queens Club.”
They would have been able to add, “And we even got to see some great tennis too.”
Terrible situation for all concerned, except Cilic of course. He got a nice trophy and a nice payday.
The linesman got hurt, the fans screwed and Nalbandian disqualified and fined. He may be subject to suspension as well.
Though I know the officials probably acted correctly (by the rule book) with the DQ, I can’t help but think that the whole situation could have been averted if the linesman hadn’t exposed the injured appendage to fans, a trainer had been handy to repair the damaged shin and a maintenance worker to bring out another piece-of-crap barrier.
In the end, fans would have been able to see gore and tennis in the same arena on the same day, the gore being an unexpected bonus.
They’d probably have stopped at the box office on the way out to try and secure tickets for the 2013 tournament.
Could have been a double dandy winning day if only the barriers had been more sturdy, if Cilic hadn’t returned the danged ball wide to Nalbandian’s right, if Nalbandian had made the return, if the linesman hadn’t showed off the wound, if a medic had been present, if…
Terrible, just terrible.
I think it was an unfortunate incident that could have had a happy ending after all was said and done.