Umpire Arnaud Gabas feels fortunate to have escaped a more serious injury after being hit in the eye by a tennis ball struck by Denis Shapovalov.
Teenager Shapovalov inadvertently hit Gabas when he smashed a ball in frustration during Sunday’s match against Kyle Edmund, in the deciding rubber of Canada’s Davis Cup tie with Great Britain.
Gabas, whose eye immediately started to swell up, was taken to Ottawa General Hospital for precautionary checks but no damage to the cornea or retina was found – something the Frenchman admits was a stroke of luck.
He was quoted as saying in several national newspapers: “I came off the court looking like Rocky Balboa.
“The video is quite shocking to look at. We have to avoid some balls during the season but this one I had no chance.
“I feel quite lucky it wasn’t worse.
“Players can be a bit crazy these days. I could see he was angry and that something was coming but I never thought he would hit me.”
There was no intent on Shapovalov’s part but the outcome was an immediate default, handing Britain victory and a Davis Cup quarter-final away in France in April.
The 17-year-old apologised straight away and then sought Gabas out again in the referee’s office. Reigning Wimbledon junior champion Shapovalov was subsequently fined $US7,000 ($A9,122) by the International Tennis Federation
Gabas added: “He was remorseful and shocked when he came to apologise.
“At the moment I’m OK, I’m on painkillers but I have an appointment to see a specialist when I get home.”