French player Michael Llodra likened the court at the French Open to an Arab marketplace after receiving a warning from Moroccan chair umpire Mohamed El Jennati for throwing a ball at a female security guard in the stands on Monday.
Upset that the guard was distracting him, the 22nd-seeded Llodra lost his cool during the second set of his first-round loss to Belgian qualifier Steve Darcis. TV footage of the incident showed Llodra comparing the atmosphere on the court to a “souk”, a commercial quarter in Arab cities.
“We are not in a souk. We are not selling carpets in a market,” Llodra told the umpire after receiving his warning.
Llodra, who lost 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, then said at a post-match news conference that the umpire should not have warned him for the incident and should have instead called the security staff or told the female guard to stop moving. He added that he felt the umpire’s decision was unfair and said he just told Jennati “to do his job”.
“I would have preferred to get the warning because I was getting restless on the court, which was not the case,” said Llodra, whose best result at the French Open was reaching the fourth round in 2004 and 2008. “I don’t think the umpire was doing his job. It’s too easy to give me a warning and it was useless. Anyway, it was not that serious.”
Tournament organisers told the Associated Press (AP) that El Jennati was not available for comment because he is not allowed to speak during the two-week tournament.
But Llodra’s coach, Olivier Malcor, told AP that Llodra has a good relationship with El Jennati and that the player didn’t want to offend the Moroccan with his angry comments.
“He probably used the word souk for ‘brothel’, because it was a real mess in the stands,” Malcor said in a telephone interview. “They’ve known each other for 10 years now and there is absolutely no problem between them.”
Tournament director Gilbert Ysern said no action would be taken against Llodra.
“It’s just a chair umpire call, and Michael Llodra’s comments following the incident ended the argument,” Ysern said in a statement to the AP. — AP