Maria Sharapova came back to beat Caroline Wozniacki 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami on Thursday afternoon, but as scintillating as the tennis was, it was how the match ended that had people buzzing.
On her second match point, Sharapova appeared to have hit her sixth double fault of the day after her second serve was called long. Sharapova looked like she was ready to challenge the call, but chair umpire Kader Nouni quickly overruled and called for the point to be replayed. More often than not this would have been a non-issue, as the aggrieved player could invoke a Hawk-Eye challenge to review the point. But in this case, Wozniacki had burned through her three allotted challenges for the set. Had the out call stood, it would have sent the game to deuce and given Wozniacki a crucial opportunity to get back on serve in the decisive third set.
Television replays showed that Nouni was correct: The ball had clipped the line. But that didn’t help Wozniacki’s state of mind. She tried to argue — to no avail — that Nouni shouldn’t have overruled, but rather waited for Sharapova’s challenge to review the call. Nouni disagreed, saying he clearly saw it hit the line. The point was replayed and Sharapova converted to advance to her third final of the year.
Wozniacki was demonstrably angry with how the match ended, shaking her head as she glared at Nouni on her way to shaking Sharapova’s hand. Then she refused to shake his hand, instead walking to her bench and throwing her towel in frustration before leaving the court. (See the point in question and her reaction below.)
Asked after the match whether she was relieved to know that Nouni made the right call, Wozniacki said no and explained: “I think when the ball is so close, I think he should give her a chance to challenge at least when I don’t have any challenges. She was gonna challenge it, anyway. So if it shows it’s good, it’s good. If it shows it’s out, it’s out. The ball was so close that it might as well have been out.”
So according to Wozniacki, Nouni should have left the call alone — regardless of how he saw the ball — because she didn’t have any challenges left, while Sharapova could have challenged the line judge’s call. Not sure about the logic there; maybe it’s best to give Wozniacki a mulligan on this one.
So Wednesday night we had Jo-Wilfried Tsonga complaining about umpires not overruling enough, and now we have Wozniacki complaining that they shouldn’t get involved. Poor umpires. They just can’t win.