Alexander Bublik has left tennis fans astonished at the final of the Moselle Open after a bizarre trick shot gone wrong led to him being booed by the French crowd.
Up against Italian World No.65 Lorenzo Sonego, the enigmatic Kazakhstani player found himself down a set and a break in the decider when a moment of madness struck him.
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After Sonego was forced to return a first serve high into the air over the net, Bublik looked to have an easy smash, which would have sent the game to deuce.
Instead, Bublik attempted to repeat a feat he pulled off earlier in the year at the Miami Open against Casper Ruud - only this time it went spectacularly wrong.
Turning his racquet around to attempt to hit a winner with the handle, Bublik could only softly bat the ball back over the net, only for Sonego to easily track it down to win the point and with it, the second break of the set.
While Bublik was able to see the funny side, smiling to himself as he towelled himself down between games, boos soon rang out from the crowd.
Check with your eyes. And look at the score. Not cool. pic.twitter.com/c4b0sv5eDD
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) September 25, 2022
“What is he thinking?” the commentator called out.
“No wonder the boos come. This is the final of an ATP 250 event. He’s one break down, now he’s two breaks down.
"He is unravelling fast. Outrageous. What is happening here? I can’t believe he’s done that.”
It was a needless gaffe from the world No.44, who is well established on the ATP tour but is yet to progress beyond the third round of a grand slam.
Sonego predictably came out on top, claiming a straightforward 7-7 6-2 victory over Bublik.
Fans were somewhat divided by Bublik's audacious shot attempt, with some appreciating the comedy value but many others left unimpressed by what was described as a lack of professionalism from the 25-year-old.
I mean its up to him if he wants to troll🤷♂️ no one should care more than the player who’s involved
— تركي العتيبي (@TurkiGAlotaibi) September 25, 2022
Agreed! People care so much but the only person it truly hurts is bublik who doesn’t seem to mind 😆 I thought it was funny and ultimately his decision to mess around so who cares haha
— ☾mad (@idgimaddy) September 25, 2022
— Jimbo (@Grumio43257933) September 25, 2022
He's got previous for this only last time it worked out for him.
Just Bublik being Bublik - i wouldn't want to change him for the world! https://t.co/r095jQ9eQu
— Fantasy Tennis League (@FantasyTennisL1) September 25, 2022
The bizarre attempt also drew comparisons to Nick Kyrgios' brain fade against Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round of the US Open, when he crossed to the other side of the net to slam home what he thought would be a winner from the Russian's side of the court.
Instead it was called a foul shot, with many fans in disbelief that Kyrgios would make such an elementary error in the name of entertainment - though fortunately for the Australian, he was able to come out of that match a winner.
Bublik's clowning isn't fresh at this point, but not sure why he would reel it back in when Kyrgios gets celebrated for it (abusive conduct to officials is much worse than this kind of stuff anyway) https://t.co/Rz8V73UkGI
— Trenton Jocz (@TrentonJocz) September 25, 2022
It's definitely stupid, but when you have players like Kyrgios being glorified for some of his behaviours, I'm not surprised to see other showing this kind of disrespect to gain fame. Kyrgios seems to be taking the game a lil more seriously now hopefully Bublik will too soon
— Brandneway (@_Brandneway) September 25, 2022
Alexander Bublik's brain fade aids long-awaited Lorenzo Sonego win
Sonego was able to return to the top 50 in the world rankings thanks to the victory, which comes as a difficult season for the Italian star nears a close.
“I improved my tennis every day, and I’m really happy for this match and this tournament,” the 27-year-old said after the match.
“It’s really tough to play against Alexander, because he is an unbelievable player with an amazing serve, good talent, and it is always tough to play him.”
“This is an emotional moment for me, because I had a tough year. Now I’m going to enjoy this.”
Meanwhile, Brandon Nakashima earned his first ATP Tour victory in his hometown, beating friend and fellow Southern Californian Marcos Giron 6-4 6-4 in the San Diego Open final.
"It's super-special, something you dream of, but to have it happen in my hometown with all my friends and family here, it's a moment I'll never forget," said Nakashima, who had two previous finals appearances.
"I hope there are many more moments like this to come."
Nakashima, a 21-year-old who grew up in San Diego and trained extensively at the event's site as a junior, clinched Sunday's opening set in only 30 minutes. The second set, filled with lengthy rallies, took nearly an hour.
Fifth seed Giron was unable to fend off Nakashima's persistent ground strokes and well-placed serves. Nakashima had eight aces, six in the first set.
Serving at 5-4 in the second set, Nakashima tallied the match's deciding two points when Giron pushed an easy volley into the net, followed by Nakashima's second-serve ace.
Nakashima, who was ranked No. 69, moved up to 48, his highest ranking in nearly three years on tour. Despite the loss, Giron moved up to 53 from 58.
Not only was the singles title claimed by an American, the doubles title also taken by an American duo as the second-seeded pair of Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow defeated Australians Jason Kubler and Luke Saville 7-6 (5) 6-2.
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