Nalbandian lashes out at ‘stupid’ umpire at Aus Open

Nalbandian lashes out at ‘stupid’ umpire at Aus Open

MELBOURNE - Agence France-Presse
Nalbandian lashes out at ‘stupid’ umpire at Aus Open

David Nalbandian (L) argues with umpire Kader Nouni during his game with with US tennis player John Isner. AFP Photo

A furious rant by David Nalbandian stirred up the Australian Open yesterday, as Rafael Nadal made a timely return to form and Roger Federer reached the third round without picking up his racket.

Women’s champion Kim Clijsters raced through in just 47 minutes to stay on track for a clash with China’s Li Na, and top seed Caroline Wozniacki survived a second-set fightback by former junior doubles partner Anna Tatishvili.

Nadal, who has grumbled about injuries and has appeared jaded in recent months, was smiling again after his 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 defeat of Tommy Haas, which put him into the third round without dropping a set.
Federer, seeking his first Grand Slam win in two years, received a boost when Germany’s Andreas Beck withdrew from their match with a back problem, giving the Swiss free passage to the third round.

But the major talking point was an on-court bust-up involving the combative Nalbandian, who was incensed when a chair umpire refused to allow a critical video challenge near the end of his 4hr 41min marathon loss to John Isner.

Nalbandian said the official, Kader Nouni of France, was not capable of umpiring men’s grand slam matches after making the contentious call late in the gripping five-setter, which ended 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5), 10-8.

Holding a break point at 8-8 in the deciding set, Nalbandian, a former top-10 player and the 2002 Wimbledon runner-up, asked for a Hawk-Eye video review when umpire Nouni overruled a fault call on Isner’s serve.

But Nouni told him he was “too late” to request the challenge, according to Nalbandian, who argued for several minutes and called the match supervisor on court.

“I mean, it’s ridiculous playing this kind of tournament with this kind of umpires. What is this? Why did the ATP do this?” Nalbandian fumed later.

“I mean, can you be that stupid to do that in that moment?”

In the women’s draw, Clijsters brushed past France’s Stephanie Foretz Gacon 6-0, 6-1, while French Open winner Li dispatched Australian wildcard Olivia Rogowska 6-2, 6-2 to stay on track for a fourth-round meeting with the Belgian.

But Italy’s Francesca Schiavone followed US Open champion Samantha Stosur out of the tournament when she was shocked by 80th-ranked compatriot Romina Oprandi, who won 6-4, 6-3.

“I think it was a really bad match for me,” Schiavone said. “I couldn’t play like I was trying to play.”
World number one Wozniacki came through in a second-set tiebreaker with Georgia’s Tashvili, while Agnieszka Radwanska, Daniela Hantuchova and Jelena Jankovic were among the other seeds to progress.

And third seed Victoria Azarenka shrugged off crowd jibes about her unusual screaming as she thrashed local hope Casey Dellacqua for the loss of just one game to remain unbeaten this year.