Cerúndolo has already given up his racket and celebrates on Swedish brick dust. Photo Johan Lilja / Twitter @NordeaOpen
It is not normal to see an ATP final between two Argentines outside South America. What happened this weekend, with the victory of Francisco Cerúndolo 7-6 and 6-2 over Sebastián Báez, had not been seen since the 2006 Kitzbuhel tournament. On that occasion, Agustín Calleri prevailed in the definition against Juan Ignacio Chela .
However, beyond this great news for albiceleste tennis, there was an unusual and very particular situation which then went viral on the networks. It happened at the match point of the Bastad final and raises the question that the game shouldn’t have ended there.
With the score of 7-6, 5-2, 40-0, Cerúndolo got the triple match point to claim victory in Sweden. He served open on Báez’s backhand and the return went long. He crashed on clay to celebrate his first ATP title, but didn’t take into account the fact that the ball’s trajectory would end up in his racket lying on the ground.
According to the ITF Rules of Tennis, in the tenth paragraph of rule 24, “a player loses a point if the ball in play touches the racket when the player is not holding it”, which is exactly what happened in this case. Therefore, the point should have been lost.
Neither player, not even the referee or the linesmen, noticed it. A few hours later, via the networks, Twitter user @ AlexTheodorid1s noticed it, tweeted it through a screen recording of his mobile and soon went viral.
But did the ball hit the string or not? Or is it simply a visual illusion of cameras focusing? Five hours later, the same user posted a new video, from another angle, in which the ball appears to be hitting the side of the racquet, not on it, although it’s unclear.
In any case, if the chair referee noticed it, Fran still had two match points left and most likely, sooner or later, he would end up winning a match that saw him as a clear ruler in that second set.
This unusual situation did not overshadow what for him was a great victory and a huge week, arguably the best of his entire career as a professional tennis player less than a month after his 24th birthday.
He won his first ATP title, beat a Top Ten for the first time (6-4, 3-6 and 7-5 vs. Casper Ruud) and added two other major wins against Aslan Karatsev and a surface specialist such as Pablo Carreno Busta, facing both without giving up the sets. Furthermore, he reached the Top 30 for the first time and is 20th in the race.