Amarissa Toth claims it was ‘never her intention to disrespect’ Zhang Shuai, as the Hungarian tennis player FINALLY apologises for controversial actions which led to her opponent’s panic attack
- Amarissa Toth was beaten in straight sets at the Budapest Open on Thursday
- The Hungarian gave an apology to Zhang Shaui for her actions in the prior round
- Toth had been heavily criticised for ‘lacking sportsmanship’ during her victory
Hungarian tennis player Amarissa Toth has issued an apology for her actions at the Budapest Open after being accused of a series of ‘disgusting’ acts in her win over China’s Zhang Shuai.
Toth saw her run at the tournament come to an end on Thursday following a 6-3, 6-1 straight sets loss against Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl in the round of 16.
The local player issued a video statement following her exit on the Budapest Open’s social media pages, where she apologised for her actions.
‘I did not think that my first ever WTA main draw success of my career would cause such a storm,’ Toth said.
‘I am extremely sorry for what happened, I respect Zhang Shuai as a player and as a person.
Amarissa Toth has issued an apology for her controversial actions against China’s Zhang Shuai
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Zhang Shuai (pictured) was left in tears and unable to continue at the Budapest Open after a series of controversial acts from Toth
‘It was never my intention to disrespect, hurt or upset anybody, let alone Zhang Shuai.
‘I do realise I shouldn’t have celebrated the way I celebrated after the match and I’m sorry for that.
‘I was acting in the heat of the match and got caught up by my emotions and the moment. I focused on tennis, I didn’t want to win like that.
‘I hope that in the future I have the opportunity to sit down and talk with Zhang Shaui and tell her how badly I feel that our match ended this way.’
Toth’s comments followed Zhang leaving the court in tears following their match, which led to the 20-year-old being accused of ‘a new low for sportsmanship’.
The veteran Chinese player had hit a crosscourt forehand that appeared to land on the line but was called out by the line judge, leaving Zhang incensed by the decision and demanding to speak to the tournament supervisor.
Zhang argued with the umpire about the controversial call for several minutes while she was mocked and jeered while Toth appeared to be laughing. The Hungarian then walked up to the mark left by the ball that was called out and used her shoe to erase it.
Zhang yelled from her side of the net, ‘Wait, wait, wait, keep the mark! What are you doing? Why would you do that?’
Toth (pictured) could be seen walking towards the contested ball marking and scuffing it out with her foot before officials could take a closer look
Shuai received an outpouring of support from ex-players after a controversial end to the match
Toth had initially denied that she had behaved badly in her match with Zhang in the prior round
Toth responded by saying: ‘Because you’re making problems, that’s why.’
Zhang went on to win the game, but she looked visibly stressed during the changeover.
A physio was called to check on her before the world number 28 opted to retire while trailing 6-5 in the opening set of their match in Budapest.
TV commentators explained that Zhang was crying a ‘flood of tears’, with one calling the episode a ‘panic attack’.
The 34-year-old then quickly shaking hands with the umpire and Toth as she made her premature exit, before pointing at sections of the crowd who had booed her.
Zhang later took to social media to complain about the call and thanked those who supported her.
‘All efforts on practice was wrong, because when you wanted hitting closer to the line, even touched the line still OUT,’ Zhang wrote.
Toth’s conduct during the match was slammed by fans and players as ‘shameful’ and a ‘new low for sportsmanship’.
Kateryna Baindl sent a message of support to Zhang after beating Toth in the round of 16
The Hungarian had initially denied that her behaviour was inappropriate, but has since opted to apologise.
Baindl, who beat Toth to advance to the quarter-finals, had addressed the controversy during her on-court interview on Thursday.
‘I just want to say I hope they can stay fair and Shuai Zhang feels better and hopefully she it getting better and we will soon see her back,’ Baindl said.
‘She is an unbelievable player, very respectful and a great person.
‘There is a lot to learn from her.
‘I guess we should all stay respectful to each other, it does not matter what.’
The controversy had escalated further into a racism row after tournament organisers accused China of ‘manipulating’ footage to make homegrown youngster Toth look bad.
Who were the players involved?
Shuai, 34, who has spent over a decade in the sport, is a two-time major champion in women’s doubles after claiming victory at the Australian Open in 2019 and the US Open two years later. Both of those double triumphs came alongside Australian partner Samantha Stosur.
The Chinese star also reached the Wimbledon final in 2022 with Belgium’s Elise Mertens, only to suffer defeat against Alexa Guarachi and Andreja Klepac.
She has a career-high doubles ranking of world No 2 and has picked up 12 titles on the WTA tour.
As a single, Shuai has reached two major quarter-finals at the Australian Open in 2016 and Wimbledon three years later. She is one of only five Chinese tennis players in history to make it to this stage of a Grand Slam and has also been ranked as high as No 22 in the world.
Toth, 20, is only a few years into her professional career after making her WTA Tour main-draw debut at the Budapest Grand Prix in 2021.
She has a career-high ranking of 534 in singles and 264 in doubles, and has claimed 12 ITF Circuit finals titles – 11 of them coming in doubles.
The Hungarian youngster’s highest rank win so far came in the 2022 Slovak Open, where she got the better of Germany’s Eva Lys in the first round.
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