February 27, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Umpire mess-up leads to two celebrations for Gabriel Diallo

MELBOURNE, Australia – It’s possible your humble Open Court servant was the only person on Court 3 who knew, when Canadian Gabriel Diallo let 7-5 in the deciding set match tiebreak, that it wasn’t over.

Some people heard umpire Marijana Veljovic call “game, set, match Diallo”. We don’t remember that – probably because we didn’t expect her to call it, given the match wasn’t over.

And it appears Veljovic didn’t announce – as is usually done, and as she should have – that the deciding tiebreak was first to 10. Hence everyone’s confusion.

But Diallo celebrated. His camp celebrated. And then, seconds later, Veljovic realized her mistake and told both Diallo and opponent PIerre-Hugues Herbert that it was not, in fact, over, it didn’t go over well.

Especially with Herbert, who promptly double-faulted to go down 8-5.

Diallo’s first celebration, at 7-5 in the match tiebreak, turned out to be a bit premature.

He rallied, but Diallo wouldn’t be denied a second time. And so he pulls off a messy, dramatic but invigorating victory that put him in the final round of qualifying at a major for the first time in his young career.

Here’s what he said afterwards.

“We both forgot that it was a super-tiebreak. The umpire had told us it was a normal one. So we were both prepared for that. So when I won the point at 6-5 to make it 7-5, I thought it was over – and the whole stadium did, too. Then I walked towards the net and the umpire said, “Gabriel, the match continues.’ So you don’t have a lot of time to process it.

“I tried to regroup and stay concentrated. I had a few nervous moments. And of course there was a little bit of doubt. But I was able to manage it well and come out with the win in the end.”

Diallo admitted that it wasn’t a great match. But he proved to himself that all that work off the court, all those hours on the court, pay off.

“Not every time, even if you work hard and sometimes you have trouble putting those things into place during the match,” he said. “But today, things fell into place. Of course I’d have wanted to play better, but I’m so proud of the way I competed – myself and my team – because there were moments where things really weren’t going well for me.”

After the drama in the match tiebreak, Diallo’s team only got louder and more encouraging, almost willing him to stay on song and somehow find a way through.

Since he was down 2-5 in that final set, it was a sweet victory indeed.

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