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Friday August 31, 2012 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday June 1, 2013 MYT 5:47:08 PM
ANGRY Xavier Malisse vented his frustration over line calls at umpire Carlos Ramos and a heckler in expletive-filled fashion on Wednesday during a first-round US Open loss to ninth-seed John Isner.
Isner advanced 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 7-6 (11-9) after 2’56:00 at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the first time the American had started his Flushing Meadows fortnight in the 23,700-seat main court.
Malisse, a 32-year-old Belgian whose only Grand Slam semi-final appearance came a decade ago at Wimbledon, was aggravated repeatedly by what he saw as errant line calls for Isner and Ramos’s reluctance to overrule them.
“Lucky there was challenge replay system Hawkeye or it would have been a total fiasco,” Malisse said. “After a while it was just frustrating.
“There were so many bad calls. One game there were three in a row. We have to be quiet and sit there and do nothing and if we say something we get a fine.”
By the end of the second set, Malisse felt a blown call at 5-3 cost him the set and “I lost the belief” in the linesmen or Ramos.
“I’m not sure it’s out,” Ramos said at one stage.
“I don’t care anymore,” Malisse retorted. “Every ball has been against me. Every time I’m the one challenging. It’s this much out and nothing gets said. Nothing.”
Malisse dismissed the idea his line call woes came because he was facing the top-seeded American in an up-for-grabs quarter of the bracket at the US Open.
“No, I don’t believe it has gotten to be that way,” he said. “Mistakes are going to be made. But there were more going on than usual.”
After holding to level the fourth set at 4-4, Malisse pushed Ramos in vain for a call.
“That’s the whole story of the day – you are not going to call it because that’s a top-10 guy,” Malisse said. After another perceived miss, Malisse fired to Ramos – “Great call. Stuck it in my ribs again.”
But Malisse’s biggest tirade came after losing the second set tie-breaker.
“What are you going to say now. I’m sorry?” Malisse said. “I’m sorry. I’m down two sets to love. It’s this much wide and nobody says anything every time.
“You agree and somebody loses. It’s s***. You guys mess up and the players are supposed to understand. How much are you going to pay?”
Told he was receiving a code violation, Malisse replied: “You guys are hilarious. You decide the set and give the code violation to somebody else.
“I got warned for a bad word,” Malisse admitted later. “Why did I say it? It just got brutal.”
Malisse even managed a dig at absent Rafael Nadal, who skipped the US Open this year with knee problems, after Ramos announced they had 20 seconds to resume play.
“Just like every match,” Malisse said. “We get 20 seconds. Nadal gets 45 seconds.”
Malisse harnessed his anger into effort, winning the third set and battling into a tie-breaker in the fourth, where he fired back at a heckler in the stands “Shut your f****** face.”
“Half the crowd don’t understand what’s going on,” Malisse said. “If they say something I’m going to say something back.”
Malisse, who had beaten Isner in two of three prior meetings, was undone when he netted a backhand volley at 9-9 to hand Isner his third and final match point. Isner’s service winner ended Malisse’s misery. “It was very thin,” Isner said of his win margin. “I was very fortunate. At 9-all he made a mistake he doesn’t often make and I was able to move on.” — AFP
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