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Paris cauldron: Ofner’s opponent should have been disqualified

Paris cauldron: Ofner’s opponent should have been disqualified
Sebastian Ofner

What a game on Court 12 of the attractive Roland Garros complex, where a Davis Cup atmosphere prevailed during the Parisian night hours. The court was filled to the last seat, almost everyone wanted to see the French “tennis bully” Terence Atmane, number 120 in the world, win. And he did so against Austria’s top player Sebastian Ofner, for whom not only the course of the match but also the heated atmosphere became a mental Herculean task. In such a cauldron, you first have to keep your nerve.

Ofner did this in front of his parents, although it was not easy for the 28-year-old. The world number 45 from Bruck an der Mur was already 0-2 sets behind and also had his back against the wall in the third round with a score of 2-4.

But then the favorite turned up the heat and converted his first match point at exactly 11:57 p.m. to win 3:6, 4:6, 7:6 (2), 6:2, 7:5. The match lasted 3 hours and 35 minutes.

“There are rules”

The matter should have been over much sooner. And that was due to Atmane’s uncontrollable temper. With the score at 1:4 in the fourth set, the 22-year-old, out of frustration, smashed the ball into the stands and hit a woman. The logical consequence would have been immediate disqualification. But that wasn’t the case. Is that called home advantage?

“It (the ball, note) was flying straight into the crowd at 250 km/h. In the Challengers, you get a fine of 10,000, 15,000 euros for ridiculous behavior,” said Ofner in an interview with Servus TV. “Now we’re at a Grand Slam, and it’s difficult for me to understand something like that. There are rules, but apparently you can do whatever you want here. I was annoyed. If you do something like that, you have to be punished.” Clear words. By the way, Atmane did not even apologize for his outburst.

“The atmosphere was great”

And how was the match? “I don’t know how I won the match. I played perhaps my worst tennis of the year for two and a half sets. But then I was in, and all I could think about was fighting,” said Ofner, who reached the round of 16 from qualifying in 2023: “There are a lot of points to defend. I put pressure on myself and was nervous at the beginning. In the end, it was one of my biggest matches that I turned around.”

The impression of the setting was enormous: “The atmosphere was great, I have to say that was really fair. I soaked it up, even if it was for him. I wanted to show that I’m still here, you’ll see me here for a while longer. Now I’m super happy.” But also exhausted.

Now it’s time to recover and get ready for the next task. The winner of the duel between Sebastian Baez (Arg) and Gustavo Heide (Bra) is expected to come to Ofner on Wednesday. Baez is none other than the number 20 in the world and the reigning Kitzbühel winner, who beat Dominic Thiem in the 2023 final.

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