David Ferrer was preparing to serve in his Sony Ericsson Open quarterfinal match against American Mardy Fish when the sound of a bawling child filled the stadium court. The sixth-ranked Spaniard briefly paused, but decided to play through the noise.
Ferrer lost the point. Then he lost his composure. Looking in the general direction of the crying baby, Ferrer lobbed a ball into the crowd in frustration. He went on to lose the next point and four straight games, capping a complete second-set meltdown.
Watch the clip below. (The video doesn't show the baby crying during the point, just Ferrer's reaction.):
Given how bad Ferrer's groundstrokes were in the second set, it's no surprise that the ball didn't come close to hitting the baby. (Rimshot!)
Ferrer's actions were reckless and immature. It was a bully move borne out of frustration. He hit a ball in anger toward the crowd, which is never acceptable, particularly when it's at a defenseless child. He's lucky he didn't get a warning or a fine. He's even more lucky the ball didn't come close to hitting anybody.
Is all that out of the way? Good. Because while I believe everything in the previous paragraph, there's another big issue at hand: Who brings a baby to a tennis match?
There are two places babies don't belong: bars and any place where silence is greatly valued. Find a babysitter. Leave the child outside the stadium with your wife. Or, better yet, watch the match on TV. (But not in a bar.) Ferrer was wrong for overreacting, but the father is equally wrong for putting his child in that situation.
Fish defended Ferrer after the match. "He'd probably take that one back if he could," he said. "He's a very nice guy. Obviously flustered."
For his part, Ferrer didn't blame the baby for his meltdown, saying a bout of indigestion is what caused the collapse of his game. "[The crying baby] was in one moment of the match, but nothing special," he said. "It was not the problem."
No, the problem was Ferrer's boorish behavior, which was caused just as much by his decision to play through the noise than it was from the noise itself. The instant Ferrer thought he shouldn't serve, he should have backed away from the baseline to collect himself. When he lost the point, he seemed more frustrated at himself for playing rather than the child.
His warning shot worked, by the way. The child stopped crying after Ferrer launched the ball into the stands.
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- David Ferrer