Only a few days ago, two-time champion Maria Sharapova was denied a Wild Card into this year’s Roland Garros. The president of the French Tennis Federation (FFT, short for Fédération Française de Tennis) commented on the decision stating “there can be a Wild Card for return from injuries then there cannot be a wild card for return from doping,” which as a statement alone seems like solid justification for not even granting her a qualifying wildcard.
The issue is when you look at someone like Paul-Henri Mathieu, who has suffered many injuries throughout his career. The former World #12 playing in his last year on tour was denied a Wild Card at the event despite pushing nine-time champion Rafael Nadal 11 years ago in a thrilling match as well as beating big serving American John Isner 18-16 in the final set five years ago in the second-longest ever match at Roland Garros. On his Facebook page he accepted not receiving one but disagreed with the decision and rightly so; anyone who’s watched tennis over the years would surely feel the same.
But despite those Wild Card decisions being made, there’s one in particular which makes the decisions of the organizers look like they’re hypocrites and have no idea what they’re doing, and that’s a qualifying wildcard to Constant Lestienne. Never heard of him? Well you’re in the majority–but get ready for what you’re about to read.
Let’s start off with the not so bad, and that’s his typical “tanking” efforts on court. Over his career he’s been known to throw in numerous underarm serves. Sure there’s no rule against it, but when you’re clearly doing it as a way of not bothering on court just counting down the clock before you lose, it’s another thing. Players like World #40 Bernard Tomic have been called out on their tanking efforts before as it’s against the rules, and here we are with the FFT granting someone who seemingly doesn’t care about tennis a chance to play in the French Open.
The clown Lestienne serving underarm for the 100th times in his career pic.twitter.com/bcbjKYu6nq
— Stefano Berlincioni (@Carretero77) April 4, 2017
Then we have more incidences of simply disgusting antics on court. I’m sure by now you’ve all watched matches where the losing player has retired maybe one or three games away from the match ending. Bu how about taking that one further and retiring when your opponent has 3 match points? Well, believe it or not this clown has done indeed that, and before anyone asks no he did not break his leg or have a heart attack.
Constant Lestienne retired in the France F6 Futures Semifinal when he was serving 2-6 1-5 0-40. SHAME ON HIM.
— Stefano Berlincioni (@Carretero77) March 19, 2016
Now we can move onto the best part, and this truly is the best one. The 24-year-old was banned for 7 months last September for betting on 220 tennis matches, with further reports of Lestienne even betting on tennis events while at them. I’m honestly not sure what’s the worst part here, the part where he’s been betting on tennis or the part where he was only banned last year, a ban that’s over half a year fresher than Sharapova’s.
— Stefano Berlincioni (@Carretero77) September 29, 2016
So let’s get this straight, a two-time former champion wasn’t given a Wild Card because she doped, and a Frenchman who is a former top 15 player who’s contributed so much to French tennis over the years wasn’t given one for God knows what reason. Yet a known pathetic excuse of a player, who’s been caught gambling on matches has been given a qualifying wildcard? Let’s not forget, the only reason Lestienne isn’t ranked high enough to be in qualifying on his own is because of his ban for gamblinh. It’s honestly a joke and something the FFT needs to come out and at least try and justify. Right now this not only makes their Wild Card decisions look terrible, but it makes the whole sport look bad when “players” such as Lestienne are given a chance at one of the biggest events in the sport.
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