Hurkacz vs Dimitrov: Chair umpire controversy evokes McEnroe's 1979 drama

Tuesday, 04 June 2024 at 00:30
Hubert Hurkacz faced Grigor Dimitrov in the Round of 16 at the French Open, leading to an interesting situation when the Polish player asked the Bulgarian if he wanted to replace the chair umpire during a changeover in the third set. 'Hubi' was dissatisfied with the performance of chair umpire Alison Hughes.
It's not the first time a player has requested a chair umpire change during a Grand Slam match. Back in 1979, John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase had a heated match at the US Open, which resulted in disturbances, a change of umpire, and increased security.

Hurkacz Indignant with Chair Umpire

One of the most attractive matches of the fourth round featured two top-10 players. Dimitrov (No. 10) achieved a great victory, winning 7-6, 6-4, 7-6 over Hurkacz (No. 8) and advancing to the quarterfinals of Roland Garros for the first time in his career. It was the only Grand Slam where he had not yet reached the last-8.
The match was decided by small margins and included an incident with the chair umpire in the final minutes. Hurkacz was upset because Hughes correctly ruled one of his forehands out, a decision he disagreed with and repeatedly questioned the supervisor about.
“G, you wanna make a change? You wanna continue with the lady here?” Hurkacz asked Dimitrov during an exchange.
“Wanna continue with what?” Dimitrov responded.
“No, I mean like, do you want to continue with the lady here, or are you fine, or do you want a change? That’s what I said. Up to you,” Hurkacz insisted.
“Change what, sorry?” Dimitrov replied.
“Change the lady, the chair umpire,” Hurkacz clarified.
Hurkacz asked to Dimitrov to changed the umpire at Roland Garros

The McEnroe/Nastase Controversy in 1979

One of the most controversial matches in history occurred in the second round of the 1979 US Open. The third seed, McEnroe, only 20 years old, was a major contender for the trophy in search of his first Grand Slam title. He faced a tough challenge against the 33-year-old former world No. 1 Ilie Nastase, in what seemed to be a generational shift in tennis.
A clash between two of the sport's most rebellious players promised a highly charged encounter. Nastase had a career marked by constant altercations, similar to McEnroe’s explosive personality. The former Romanian player frequently complained about line calls and the noise of airplanes.
In the fourth set, Nastase lay down on the court, claiming that McEnroe was taking too long to serve. Chair umpire Mike Hammond penalized Nastase a point, as he had already received a warning earlier in the match.
The spectators were furious, throwing bottles and objects onto the court, delaying the match for 15 minutes. Hammond defaulted Nastase, awarding the match to McEnroe while spectators fought in the stands, with some even storming the court. The police had to intervene until the situation calmed down, and the match was resumed under the direction of Bill Talbert, who also replaced Hammond as the chair umpire.
The match concluded with John McEnroe winning in four sets, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, in an epic duel that paved the way for his first Grand Slam title at the 1979 US Open after defeating Vitas Gerulaitis in straight sets in the final.

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