It’s not often that a code violation can be described as impressive, but you could make the case that Aljaz Bedene earned that adjective for his errant swat of a tennis ball Tuesday at the Western & Southern Open.
After losing a point during his round-of-16 match with Daniil Medvedev, the Slovenian took a no-look swing at a ball bouncing toward at him from behind the baseline. Likely intended to strike the backboard, it lofted high enough to reach the seats—which wouldn’t normally be an issue, given that fans aren’t permitted at this tournament.
But like a golfer whose hack from the rough improbably found its way into the cup, Bedene somehow struck one of the few humans seated inside Grandstand, a cameraman.
About a second after he hits the ball (at 00:15 in the below video), Bedene realizes what happened, and quickly says sorry.
Here's another view:
Bedene stays alive only with a code violation. Correct call. Absolutely no way that’s a default. pic.twitter.com/gpg95mAL2J— Ricky Dimon (@Dimonator) August 25, 2020
Now, to be clear, this wasn’t a missile, a la Denis Shapovalov’s projectile shot in Davis Cup years ago. But tennis rules’ aren’t the most flexible, and since Bedene hit someone in the stands with a ball, he faced the possibility of a default.
“It still hit him, I’ve still got to call the supervisor, see what they say,” the chair umpire told Bedene, who at that moment may have thought his day was done.
Cooler heads prevailed on a sultry afternoon in Queens after an ATP supervisor was called and confirmed with the cameraman that he was OK. Bedene was only given a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct, which was likely the happiest warning he’s ever received.
Medvedev, the defending champion, won 6-3, 6-3.