Tue, Feb 07, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Britain advance after ball hits umpire

AFP, OTTAWA

French chair umpire Arnaud Gabas declares the Davis Cup rubber between Canada’s Denis Shapovalov and Britain’s Kyle Edmund forfeited after Shapovalov hit him in the eye with a ball in Ottawa, Ontario, on Sunday.

Photo: AP

Britain booked a Davis Cup quarter-final against France in odd fashion on Sunday after the decisive final singles rubber was ended when Canada’s Denis Shapovalov hit the umpire with a ball.

The 17-year-old was defaulted after hitting a ball into the face of chair umpire Arnaud Gabas, handing Britain’s Kyle Edmund a 6-3, 6-4, 2-1 triumph that gave Britain a 3-2 victory in the first-round tie in Ottawa.

“It was a strange way to finish,” Edmund said. “I’ve never been part of something like that.”

Britain advanced to an April quarter-final against France, with the winner facing either Spain or Serbia in a September semi-final.

Gabas suffered bruising and swelling around his left eye and was taken to a nearby hospital.

Shapovalov apologized to Gabas in the referee’s office while he was being treated and was contrite at a news conference.

“I would like to begin with apologizing to that umpire, the referee and to all ITF officials. It was unacceptable behavior from me,” said Shapovalov, who was frustrated at losing a point, took a ball from his pocket and hit it wildly to send it flying into Gabas’ face. “I feel incredibly ashamed and embarrassed, for letting my team down and my country down. That’s the last time I’m going to do anything like that. I’m going to learn from it.”

Vasek Pospisil had blasted 25 aces in a 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5) victory over Dan Evans after 3 hours, 23 minutes to draw Canada level at 2-2.

Pospisil took to Twitter to defend his young teammate.

“No one is nicer or carries themselves better for a 17 y/o than Shapovalov,” Pospisil tweeted. “Everyone can see that today was an accident. Can happen to anyone.”

British Davis Cup captain Leon Smith was sympathetic as well.

“It’s a shame that it has happened that way, and I feel for the young lad because he’s a great talent and he has learned a harsh lesson today,” Smith said. “I thought Kyle, from what we saw Friday to the way he came out today, he was absolutely fantastic.”

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