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PARIS — Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu was lucky to escape a default for bouncing her racket into the crowd on Thursday before going on to beat 30th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova at the French Open and advance to the third round.
The 31-year-old Begu, ranked 63rd in the world, threw her racket down in frustration after falling down a break in the deciding third set and it bounced off her seating area into the courtside seats on Court 13 at Roland Garros.
The racket did not seem to hit anyone but caused a child to cry loudly with play halted as the chair umpire called on the supervisor to intervene.
Begu was, however, let off with a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct and did not let the incident affect her play as she beat Russian Alexandrova 6-7(3) 6-3 6-4 to book a meeting against French wildcard Leolia Jeanjean.
"It's an embarrassing moment for me, so I don't want to talk too much about it," She told reporters later. "I just want to apologise. My whole career I didn't do something like this, and I feel really bad and sorry."
The Romanian appeared to be in remorse immediately following the incident and after completing the victory she hugged and consoled the child and picked him up to pose for pictures.
Begu later went on to partner Colombia's Camila Osorio in the women's doubles and pulled off another victory.
"It was a difficult moment mentally, but I have to get through," Begu added. "And it was good that I had to play doubles. Like I said, I didn't have so much time to think about it."
Tennis fans on social media questioned the decision to allow Begu to continue playing, pointing at Novak Djokovic's disqualification from the 2020 U.S. Open after the Serb inadvertently hit a line judge with a ball after losing a point.
German Alexander Zverev was also kicked out of the ATP 500 tournament in Acapulco in February after he repeatedly smashed his racket against the umpire's chair following a defeat in doubles.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Ken Ferris and Toby Davis)