Kuerten Disqualified at French Open
Jun. 03, 1998
PARIS (AP) _ Defending French Open singles champion Gustavo Kuerten, voted by the media last year as the player they liked best, was disqualified in a doubles match for throwing his racket at an umpire.
Kuerten's racket hit a fan sitting behind umpire Bruno Rebeuh, but the fan apparently was not hurt.
The outburst Tuesday by Kuerten, who faces a fine, evoked memories of a racket-throwing tantrum that led to McEnroe being tossed out of the 1990 Australian Open.
Kuerten, who made a storybook run to the men's title last year as an unseeded player and became a fan favorite at Roland Garros, was knocked out in singles last week in the second round.
Kuerten was teamed with fellow Brazilian Fernando Meligeni in a doubles match against Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman and Australia's Patrick Rafter on the Suzanne Lenglen Court on Tuesday evening.
``At the end of the first set tiebreaker, he threw his racket that went just past the chair umpire and went into the stands, hitting someone in the stands,'' said Stefan Fransson, a Grand Slam supervisor, who witnessed the incident. ``He threw it from around the service line.''
Tournament referee Gilbert Ysern said he was unsure whether Kuerten could be suspended for throwing the racket at Rebeuh, who was not available for comment after the incident.
``Hopefully, we can give him the benefit of the doubt and think that he didn't really aim at killing the chair umpire by throwing the racket at him,'' Ysern said.
Kuerten also was not available for comment.
Ysern said the fan hit by the racket apparently was not hurt. Witnesses said the fan was hit in the shoulder.
``He lost his mind a little bit,'' Ysern said. ``The chair umpire could have been hit, maybe hurt by the racket. It's obviously a serious situation. It's a serious case.''
At the 1990 Australian Open, McEnroe was disqualified for throwing a racket, an incident that led to $6,500 in fines. McEnroe only threw his racket to the court, however.
At Wimbledon in 1995, Rebeuh also was involved when American Jeff Tarango stormed off court in the middle of a match. He accused Rebeuh of favoritism, and Tarango's wife slapped Rebeuh.
That incident resulted in a fine and a one-year suspension from Wimbledon for Tarango.
There had been disputes Tuesday about line calls during the tiebreaker, which the Brazilians lost.
Benjamin Deshayes, an usher at the match, said the incident happened moments after the end of the tiebreaker.
``Kuerten threw his racket at the umpire, but the umpire ducked and the racket went into the audience,'' Deshayes said. ``Kuerten got the racket back from the audience and threw it on the ground.''