Ethics Train Wreck at the French Open: The Saga of the Over-Eager Ballboy

John McEnroe slams a player for not being an exemplary sportsman. Wait...WHAT?

Sparking a mini-ethics train wreck at the French Open, an overenthusiastic ballboy, thinking a point was over when it was not, ran onto the court in the middle of the tennis match between Andy Murray and Viktor Troicki, forcing a replay on a point that appeared to have been won by Troicki.


  • Andy Murray happily accepted his good luck and won the replay. He was wrong. The tradition of tennis, unlike most other sports (but like golf), is for the competitors to be gracious in such situations, as when a player knows that an umpire mistakenly called a good point by his opponent out of bounds. True, these days that tradition is observed less and less frequently. It would still have been the right thing to do, the ethical response.
  • Commenting on the match on The Tennis Channel, John McEnroe criticized Murray for not giving Troicki the point. This may win him the Gall of the Year Award, sports division. Yes, people can change, and it is not strictly hypocritical for one of the most unsportsmanlike players in tennis history to criticize a current player for not being an exemplary sportsman, now that the brat has mellowed and learned the error of his ways. At very least, however, if Mac was going to criticize another player for not doing something he would have never considered when he was competing himself, McEnroe was obligated to admit that he was advocating a standard he didn’t embrace when he had the chance.
  • After Troicki lost the replayed point that he thought he had won, he sarcastically asked the 11-year-old ballboy, who felt bad enough already, why he didn’t run out on the court during that point, and then angrily kicked the ball away. Jerk.
  • Meanwhile, the 11-year-old ballboy botched it. Those jobs are much sought, and it is not so hard to pay attention to the match sufficiently not to interfere with the play. He didn’t deserve to be abused by the player. He did fail his own duties of diligence and competence.

The point, as it turned out, didn’t matter. Troicki broke Murray’s serve in the messed-up game, and had 5-2 lead in final set. He was two points away from winning the match before choking and losing the next five games.


[Thanks to Lianne Best for the tip!]

6 thoughts on “Ethics Train Wreck at the French Open: The Saga of the Over-Eager Ballboy

  1. I share your view and hope that there are more people who shares sympathy towards the ball boy. I am a Serb so it was supposed that I support my compatriot. But I am completely angryyyyyy about Troicki! I do not have any sympathy to Troicki anymore even though he has a status of a hero when Serbia won Davis Cup. I have a lot of sympathy to a ball boy. It is clear that boy did not it with intention, it happened accidentally as it may happen and as you can see from videos it is obviously that he had not a good view because of the umpires chair and at the end there is not someone who is feeling worser than him at this moment.

    And finally there are a lot of reasons why Troicki could not blame the boy for the loss!! He won this game so it should not affect on him. He has 4/2 lead ..the truth is that his biggest opponent Troicki himself. And if you do not know what Troicki was shouting to his team after arguing with umpire I will translate…Najgluplje dete decenije…THE MOST STUPID KID OF DECADE and he said it two times,…for sure saying rude words about KID is not the way how athletes should behave and since this moment I have not had any sympathy towards troicki and I was happy to hear that he lost. He did not deserve to win this match…and from my opinion his behavior must be punished by disciplinary commission of ATP if they do their job. By this behavior troicki show how poor person he is and such persons do not deserve a trophy.

  2. “Meanwhile, the 11-year-old ballboy botched it. Those jobs are much sought…”, it’s a kid!!! and it’s not a job, they are not being paid. Ethics of an adult like you would be to understand that. Adults line judges and umpires make mistakes in almost every game and there is never any mention of it the next day.

    • What? Are you saying he DIDN’T botch it? That he did, but nobody should say so? That nobody should tell him not to do that again? That he shouldn’t learn from his mistakes? What exactly are you proposing? If a kid accepts a responsibility, he accepts responsibility for errors. Yeah, umpires make bad calls every day—that’s why nobody mentions it, They are part of the job. I’ve nver heard of a ballboy interfering with play, and I used to watch a lot of tennis. He made a mistake, and he shouldn’t have. You have a problem with saying that?


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