Great Britain win Davis Cup match after Canadian player Denis Shapovalov hits ball at umpire

17-year-old Shapovalov was defaulted after lashing at the ball in anger and hitting umpire Arnaud Gabas in the eye

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Great Britain got their Davis Cup campaign off to a winning start, but only after Canada were disqualified from the final tie-deciding match when Denis Shapovalov hit the ball in anger into the umpire’s face.

17-year-old Shapovalov was taught a harsh lesson in how to cope with you frustration after his default caused Canada to lose the Davis Cup first round match 3-2. With the Israeli-born Canadian trailing to Britain’s Kyle Edmund 6-3, 6-4, 2-1, he mis-hit a forehand long and reacted by furiously hitting a second ball that he had in his pocket.

It flew across the court and hit chair umpire Arnaud Gabas in the eye, causing his face to bruise and leaving him in obvious pain. Gabas consulted with match referee Brian Earley, along with the two captains, and confirmed that the match would be halted for the transgression and Britain handed the victory.

"I went back and spoke to the umpire afterwards and apologised directly to him,” an emotional Shapovalov said, having been disqualified from just his second Davis Cup tie.

"Luckily he was okay but obviously it's unacceptable behaviour from me. I feel incredibly ashamed and embarrassed and I just feel awful for letting my team down, for letting my country down, for acting in a way that I would never want to act.

"I can promise that's the last time I will do anything like that. I'm going to learn from this and try to move past it."

Gabas was sent to Ottawa General Hospital for precautionary checks, with the International Tennis Federation confirming that he suffered just bruising and swelling around his left eye.

The ITF also confirmed that Shapovalov will be fined $7,000 [£5,600], made up of $2,000 for the default and $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Shapovalov’s captain, Martin Laurendeau, admitted that the decision was the right one and such an act meant there was no alternative for the match referee, but also defended his young teammate and insisted he will have no hesitation in picking him again in the future.

Shapovalov checks if Gabas is alright and apologised to the umpire despite being defaulted (Getty)

Laurendeau said: "I didn't see what happened. When the last point was over I got up to see if on the changeover he'd have all his drinks and bananas and I just heard the crowd go quiet and then I looked back to see what had happened to the umpire and that's when I realised he was in the middle of it all.

"I knew immediately the rules are the rules and you've got to play by the rules.

Gabas applied ice to his face after taking the blow (Getty)

"He's a kid, he wants to face the music, he's not going to shy away.

"He's got some great talent and it's just the beginning of his career. He'll draw a big lesson out of this. Hopefully this makes Denis a stronger person, a better player but a better person, and he's already a great kid."

Denis Shapovalov was disqualified for hitting umpire Arnaud Gabas in the face (Getty)

The incident brought back memories of Tim Henman’s default at Wimbledon in 1995, when he hit struck a ball girl with a tennis ball, while David Nalbandian was also defaulted for kicking an advertising hoarding that rebounded into the leg of a line judge.