Toth sorry for erasing mark, causing Zhang’s WD

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Amarissa Toth has apologized for erasing a ball mark during her Hungarian Grand Prix match against Zhang Shuai, with the disputed line call leading to Zhang retiring from the contest in tears.

On Tuesday, second-seeded Zhang hit a crosscourt forehand that appeared to land on the line but was called out by the line judge. The chair umpire stepped down to take a look at the mark and confirmed the ball had landed outside the line.

Zhang was incensed by the call and asked to speak with the tournament supervisor. The match continued for one more point, but the disagreement over the disputed call continued before Toth walked up to the mark and used her shoes to erase it as Zhang yelled at her to stop.

Zhang looked visibly distressed during the changeover, and a physio was called to check on her before she opted to retire while trailing 6-5 in the opening set of their round of 32 match in Budapest.

“I did not think that my first ever WTA main draw success of my career would cause such a storm,” Toth said in a statement on the tournament’s Facebook page after her 6-3, 6-1 loss to Kateryna Baindl on Thursday. “I am extremely sorry for what happened, I respect Zhang Shuai as a player and as a person. It was never my intention to disrespect, hurt or upset anybody, let alone Zhang Shuai.”

The home crowd had jeered Zhang during the incident, while Toth shook hands with her before putting her arms up in celebration.

“I do realise I shouldn’t have celebrated the way I celebrated after the match and I’m sorry for that,” Toth said. “I was acting in the heat of the match and got caught up by my emotions and the moment. I focused on tennis, I didn’t want to win like that.”

Toth’s behavior was swiftly condemned by fellow players and greats such as Martina Navratilova on social media, with Zhang taking to Instagram to complain about the call and thank those who supported her.

“I love you guys and all girls who supporting me and standing my side,” Zhang wrote.

Toth, who initially defended her decision to erase the mark, said she was hoping to speak with Zhang in the future to express her regret.

The WTA said Wednesday that it was investigating the incident and response.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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