September 12, 2011
Serena Williams wasn't the only player in a U.S. Open final to display poor sportsmanship in a tournament final. In Saturday night's men's doubles final, German Philip Petzschner denied that a ball illegally bounced off his leg, infuriating his opponents and drawing the ire of fellow players.
Petzschner and Jurgen Melzer were up a set against Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski in the match when a short Matkowski volley hit Petzschner's leg and bounced across the net for a Petzschner/Melzer winner. The chair umpire awarded Petzschner the point, incorrectly believing that the ball had hit his racquet, not his leg. When Matkowski protested, insisting that the ball hit Petzschner's leg, Petzschner lied and said the ball hadn't made contact with his body.
Melzer and Petzschner went on to win the match 6-2, 6-2 and a livid Matkowski refused to shake hands with Petzschner following the match.
In another sport, Petzschner could do the same thing and be praised for playing smart. If the Yankees are in the World Series and a pitch gets thrown inside to Derek Jeter, there's a good chance Jeter may act like it hit him, the umpire will believe him and when Jeter takes first base, the announcers will praise the heads-up play. Every week in football games, receivers try to sell referees on catches that hit the ground or holds that didn't happen. And don't get me started on all the acting that happens during basketball and soccer games. If you're not cheating, you're not trying, the old saying goes.
In individual sports like tennis or golf, such things are off-limits. There's a code. When you're a young player, you call your own matches and (hopefully) develop a sense of right and wrong.
Philip Petzschner didn't. He may have two Grand Slam doubles titles but certainly not the integrity that should go with them.