Tennis fans have slammed Sara Errani after the Italian player abused Kiki Bertens and accused her of faking injury at the French Open.
Fifth seed Bertens narrowly avoided joining the exodus of French Open women’s favourites as she survived a match point and cramps against former runner-up Sara Errani before hobbling into the third round on Wednesday.
Bertens eventually won 7-6(5) 3-6 9-7 in a clay-court duel lasting more than three hours.
However the Dutch player left the court in a wheelchair and in tears after struggling physically in the final set.
The 28-year-old said she had suffered a full-body cramp when she got back to her chair after the match and needed 45 minutes of treatment in the locker room.
However Errani wasn’t convinced.
Speaking after the match, the Italian player accused Bertens of faking her injuries and even mocked her opponent during the match.
Errani openly mocking Bertens’ injury now... pic.twitter.com/bJnh3qywOq— Bastien Fachan (@BastienFachan) September 30, 2020
“I don't like when somebody is joking on you. She played an amazing match, but I don't like the situation,” Errani said.
“For one hour she’s injured, then she run like never. I don’t like that.
“She goes out of the court on the chair, and now she’s in the locker room perfect, in the restaurant. I don't like these things.
“Then after people say to me that I’m an unfair person. It's funny for me these things. I don't think she did a good attitude on court. I didn’t like that.”
Errani also left the court without tapping racquets with Bertens, yelling “f*** you” in Italian as she departed.
Fans were left in disbelief by Errani’s actions, describing them as “pathetic” and “disgraceful”.
Disgraceful behavior from Errani. Kiki won the match and left on a wheelchair. Errani was pathetic for both her poor sportsmanship and play. I hope she is fined and lose all prize money. What a bully and one who was not even being good at her job. Her serve was ridiculous.— eduardomendesribas (@eduardomendesr5) September 30, 2020
#Errani's behaviour was especially shocking. Absolutely bereft of class and sportsmanship. Maybe she'll reflect and apologise in light of #Berten's leaving in a wheelchair. Pretty disgraceful behaviour.#FrenchOpen #wta #tennis— Ed Yew (@ed_yew) September 30, 2020
Disgusting sportsmanship from Errani. @kikibertens is one of the fairest most gracious players on the WTA— Gareth ‘Britney’ Shaw 🔰 (@garethowenshaw) September 30, 2020
Errani is a disgrace to the tennis game, she should be ashamed of her behaviour and retire— Macovei Cristi (@finaldestiny16) September 30, 2020
Man, Sara Errani was an absolute disgrace today...#RolandGarros— Ben Lewis (@BenLewisSN590) September 30, 2020
Kiki Bertens denies faking injury
Bertens laughed off Errani’s comments after the match, insisting she wasn’t faking.
“She can say whatever she feels like but maybe I should take some more acting classes or should pursue a career in that,” Bertens said.
“I'm not sure what she's thinking, but, no, I didn't feel really good on court.
“I don't want to try to take it too personal because I also know her frustrations. I think she's also frustrated with herself that she could not close out that match.”
The 33-year-old Errani, who came through qualifying to start her first grand slam for two years after a doping ban, served for the match three times.
She tried every trick in her arsenal including some dinked underarm serves on occasions but Bertens stood firm despite appearing on the verge of collapse on occasions.
Errani's serve is one of the weakest on Tour and it failed her at 5-4, 6-5 and 7-6 as she became increasingly vociferous, repeatedly yelling ‘vamos’ after points.
At 6-5 she brought up a match point with a killer drop shot but Bertens saved it with an angled forehand winner.
Bertens summoned all her energy to eventually hold serve to lead 8-7 in the decider and had triple match point in the next game, only for Errani to save them all.
However, Bertens got another opportunity and this time scrambled over the line to post her only victory over Errani in six attempts.
The orange-clad Bertens collapsed onto the clay, shaking with emotion, as 2012 runner-up Errani stalked off without acknowledging her opponent.
Bertens reached the semi-final in 2016 but is short of match play coming into Roland Garros having failed to win a match since the Tour resumed after the COVID-19 shutdown.
She retired injured in Strasbourg last week.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.