Melbourne (AFP) - Fuming Frenchman Jeremy Chardy accused a chair umpire of making "the biggest mistake of the Australian Open" Thursday, asking her: "Are you looking at the birds?The clouds?".
The 35-year-old launched the broadside after a controversial decision during his second round match against Britain's Dan Evans on Court 3 that he went on to lose.
It came at a crucial moment, with Chardy defending break point at 3-3 in the opening set.
As he hit a forehand, a ball fell out of his pocket but he kept playing and Evans returned, with the umpire calling "Let" a split-second after Chardy hit his next shot which found the net to lose the point.
The Briton said he didn't see the extra ball so the umpire elected not to replay the point, handing him the break.
Chardy insisted play should have been stopped when the ball fell from his pocket and the point replayed.
"We play with someone who cannot umpire," he said to German chair official Miriam Bley."In my life, 20 years I've never had one umpire bad like you.
"Where are you looking?You looking at the birds?The clouds?
"It's the biggest mistake of the Australian Open.There’s not one umpire on tour that does this mistake, not one."
Chardy then called for the supervisor a number of times and continued protesting.
He eventually continued, losing 6-4, 6-4, 6-1, and said afterwards that umpires should be penalised for making mistakes.
"I mean, it's what I said to her -- if I miss a point, then break my racquet, I will get fined.You can do a huge mistake, and nothing will happen to you," he said at a press conference.
"So, yeah, I think this is not fair.Has to be the same for both, no?"
Evans said he had no idea who was right or wrong.
"I don't really know what to make of what happened.I don't really know who was in the right and who was in the wrong.I didn't see it happen.It was just a pretty awkward situation," he said.
"I know Jeremy relatively well, so I didn't really want it to sour the match.It was a good competitive match."