WASHINGTON – A tennis player was defaulted from her match at the Citi Open after hitting a line judge in the knee with a ball after losing a point in the third set.
Olga Puchkova, a Russian who is ranked 88th, was forced to forfeit against Paula Ormaechea of Argentina while trailing 3-6, 6-3, 4-1 in their second-round match Thursday.
Puchkova said in a statement released by the tournament that she was "sincerely sorry" that she "accidentally" hit the official.
"I wasn't looking where the tennis ball would go," Puchkova said, adding that she apologized to the line judge.
WTA supervisor Melanie Tabb said even though Puchkova insisted it was an accident, the rules still required her to be kicked out of the tournament.
"I 100 percent believe her that that's true — that she didn't mean to do it. She wasn't even looking in that direction. ... She was just hitting the ball in frustration after she lost a point," Tabb told The Associated Press.
"It's not just the intention" that matters, Tabb added. "It's the result of her action. And she did hit the line (judge). And he was bruised on his knee from the ball, because it was hit very hard."
After Puchkova hit the line judge, the match's chair umpire, Carrie Hinueber, cited her for a code violation and asked Tabb to head to the court for a ruling. Tabb said she spoke with Puchkova, Hinueber and the line judges who were present before making her decision.
"She didn't mean to do it, but it happened," Tabb said. "Clearly, you hit someone with a ball, that's pretty much a default situation."
Puchkova upset second-seeded Sloane Stephens of the United States 7-5, 6-3 in the first round Monday at the hard-court tournament that serves as a tuneup for the U.S. Open.