‘You made a fuss out of it… and trouble for yourself!’: Remorseless tennis star, 20, whose ‘new low for sportsmanship’ behaviour led to her opponent’s panic attack, hits out at her rival – and WON’T be thrown out of the tournament
- Toth’s erasure of the mark made by Zhang sparked controversy in tennis world
- The 34-year-old later took to social media to thank fans and peers for support
- The Hungarian player will remain in the tournament and face Kateryna Baindl
Hungarian player Amarissa Toth whose ‘disgusting’ acts during her Budapest Open match against Zhang Shuai shocked the tennis world has denied that her behaviour was inappropriate.
Zhang, a former world No 22, retired from the clay court match in floods of tears after the 20-year-old erased a ball mark following a disputed line call.
The 34-year-old had struck a crosscourt forehand which appeared to land on the line, only for the umpire to call the shot out.
The Chinese tennis player argued with the umpire and called for the tournament supervisor for several minutes whilst being mocked and jeered by the crowd, and Toth added to the noise, laughing at Shuai as she became increasingly frustrated.
The match restarted only momentarily before the dispute continued, with Toth erasing the mark made on the clay to the disapproval of Zhang.
Amarissa Toth has denied that she behaved badly in her highly controversial match against Zhang Shuai at the Budapest Open
The world No 45 was left in tears and unable to continue on court after the line dispute
The 20-year-old deliberately scuffed the mark made by Zhang’s ball as she continued to talk to the umpire about overturning the call
Zhang shouted to her opponent to ‘keep the mark!’ before adding: ‘What are you doing? Why would you do that?’
Toth replied: ‘Because you’re making problems, that’s why.’
Whilst Zhang won the next game, her distress forced her to call for her physio and led to her retirement, with commentators describing how the experience had left the player ‘in floods of tears’ and possibly suffering a ‘panic attack’.
But Toth was unapologetic about her actions when queried about the match on Radio Kossuth.
‘I don’t understand why she made such a fuss out of it, that she wanted to overrule the judge’s decision,’ the Hungarian player said. ‘I don’t understand why she didn’t accept it, but she made trouble for herself’.
The tournament’s communications manager Erik Siklos instead chose to draw attention to the crowd’s treatment of Toth, when drawn on the subject on Hungarian broadcaster MTI, noting that when the player erased the mark she was heckled by ‘several people from the Chinese team’ and called ‘disrespectful’.
The ball appeared to leave a visible mark on the line before it was rubbed out by Toth’s shoe
After retiring from the match, Zhang quickly shook the hands of both the umpire and Toth before leaving the court at the Romai Teniszakademia, where Toth threw up her hands in celebration to the applause of her fans.
Toth will face Kateryna Baindl in the second round of the competition, whilst Zhang’s 13-match losing streak continues.
As video clips of the highly controversial match circulated on social media, a number of tennis stars rallied around the veteran player, with many calling for swift punishment for Toth.
World No 9 Maria Sakkari claimed that Toth ‘should be banned from the Tour’, whereas Daria Kasatkina highlighted ‘very bad refereeings and very bad sportsmanship’.
Ajla Tomljanovic posted: ‘Absolutely disgusting behaviour. Shuai is a better person than a lot of us for shaking the ref and that girl’s hand. But then again, it’s Shuai we are talking about, of course she did.’
Daria Saville, who was defeated by British No 1 Katie Boulter at Wimbledon added: ‘Zero respect for this Toth girl. ZERO! I am so so so mad. I feel so bad for Shuai. Toth “won” this point and “won” this match but her reputation is ruined.’
Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur shared her sympathy for the player, saying: All support to Shuai (heart emoji) This is not acceptable.’
Zhang took to Twitter to thank those who supported her and share thoughts on the call, writing: ‘All efforts on practice was wrong, because when you wanted hitting closer to the line, even touched the line still OUT.
Zhang thanks fans and peers alike for their support, which came from high profile stars including Ons Jabeur and Alja Tomljanovic
‘I love you guys and all girls who supporting me and standing (by) my side.’
The world No 45 has previously been outspoken about her struggles with mental health, and has been particularly affected by the recent passing of her grandparents.
Whilst at Wimbledon, where she fell in the first round of the singles against Donna Vekic, but reached the doubles semi-finals with partner Caroline Dolehide, Zhang told a reporter: ‘After my grandparents passed away, I started thinking about the meaning of life. I am 34 and I’ve played tennis for 29 years. I’ve tried my best but everyone has their limit. I feel deeply tired, especially mentally. I miss Chinese food in China.’
Fans also weighed in on Toth’s behaviour on social media, with one calling her actions ‘a new low for sportsmanship’.
Who are the players involved?
Shuai, 34, who has spent over a decade in the sport, is a two-time major champion in women’s doubles after claiming victory at the Australian Open in 2019 and the US Open two years later. Both of those double triumphs came alongside Australian partner Samantha Stosur.
The Chinese star also reached the Wimbledon final in 2022 with Belgium’s Elise Mertens, only to suffer defeat against Alexa Guarachi and Andreja Klepac.
She has a career-high doubles ranking of world No 2 and has picked up 12 titles on the WTA tour.
As a single, Shuai has reached two major quarter-finals at the Australian Open in 2016 and Wimbledon three years later. She is one of only five Chinese tennis players in history to make it to this stage of a Grand Slam and has also been ranked as high as No 22 in the world.
Toth, 20, is only a few years into her professional career after making her WTA Tour main-draw debut at the Budapest Grand Prix in 2021.
She has a career-high ranking of 534 in singles and 264 in doubles, and has claimed 12 ITF Circuit finals titles – 11 of them coming in doubles.
The Hungarian youngster’s highest rank win so far came in the 2022 Slovak Open, where she got the better of Germany’s Eva Lys in the first round.
Toth’s behaviour during the match was heavily criticised by fans and players alike online
Zhang previously discussed her mental health struggles at Wimbledon, following the passing of her grandparents
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