'Not legal': Commentators stunned by wild ATP Cup gaffe

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina got away with this amusing shot in their ATP Cup match against Norway on Monday. Pictures: Channel 9
Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina got away with this amusing shot in their ATP Cup match against Norway on Monday. Pictures: Channel 9

Former Australian tennis star Mark Philippoussis was left gobsmacked in the commentary box during the ATP Cup rubber between Spain and Norway after an obvious gaffe went overlooked by the referee.

Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina couldn't help but laugh after he got away with a point he should have had docked in the doubles match against Norway's Lukas Hellum Lilleengen and Andreja Petrovic.

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Paired with Pedro Martinez for the eventual 6-4, 6-1 victory, Davidovich Fokina could only chuckle as he got away with holding his racquet beyond the net for a volley return.

The clear violation went unnoticed however, except by Philippoussis in the Channel 9 commentary box.

The bemused former champion was stunned that the violation been missed.

“That was definitely not legal,” Philippoussis said.

“I think that’s what he was laughing about; the fact that he put his racquet over the net.

“There was a whole lot of wrong in that one.”

Co-commentator Sam Smith cracked that they'd have to 'draw a line' under it and move on.

Fortunately, Davidovic Fokina and Martinez were firmly in control of the match, with the gaffe not having a big impact on the outcome.

Earlier, Argentina pair Diego Schwartzman and Federico Delbonis barely raised a sweat while Spain cruised despite the absence of Rafael Nadal.

The Argentinian pair both won their matches 6-1 6-2 against Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili and Aleksandre Metreveli respectively at Qudos Bank Arena, Schwartzman particularly impressive in his disposal of the world No.22.

Their doubles pair then secured a clean sweep, also winning 6-1 6-2.

Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta fought from breaks down in both sets to defeat plucky Chilean Alejandro Tabilo 6-4 7-6 (7-4).

Roberto Batista Agut was more clinical, trouncing Chile's world No.17 Cristian Garin 6-0 6-3 to render the doubles a dead rubber.

The pair showed they would still be a force in the team event without Nadal, who has arrived in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open after a preparation disrupted by a positive COVID-19 case.

Stefanos Tsitsipas opts out of ATP Cup opener

A cautious Stefanos Tsitsipas says his surgically-repaired elbow has rendered him a match-by-match proposition after the Greek star was a late withdrawal in an ATP Cup anticlimax against Poland.

The world No.4 was slated to face world No.9 Hubert Hurkacz in a must-win match after Greece's Michail Pervolarakis lost 6-1 6-4 to Poland's Kamil Majchrzak in Sydney on Saturday night.

Instead it was world No.1076 Aristotelis Thanos who walked onto court at the Qudos Bank Arena, with Tsitsipas watching on from the team bench with ice wrapped around his right elbow.

Thanos jumped two higher-ranked Greek teammates to make a surprise appearance but was outclassed 6-1 6-2 by the Australian Open smoky.

Stefanos Tsitsipas has been unable to say whether he will be fit to enter the Australian Open later in January. (Photo by CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP via Getty Images)
Stefanos Tsitsipas has been unable to say whether he will be fit to enter the Australian Open later in January. (Photo by CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP via Getty Images)

Curiously though, Tsitsipas then played doubles with apparent freedom in a three set win with Pervolarakis, before saying his elbow needed "air to breath" ahead of the year's first grand slam.

"The recovery from my elbow surgery in November is on track for Melbourne and today was a precautionary step to make sure I make Melbourne," Tsitsipas, one of the Australian Open fancies, said.

"We will see day by day, match by match until then."

The No.4's absence leaves Greece's legitimacy in the 16-team event in question, given Pervolarakis is ranked No.399 in the world.

It also spoiled the match-up of the opening day in a tournament - played in two near-empty stadiums - already without Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer for various reasons.

With AAP

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