'Serious Black Eye' For U.S. Open in Bizarre Peng Scene | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Wednesday / May 22.
  • ‘Serious Black Eye’ For U.S. Open in Bizarre Peng Scene

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    CaroNEW YORK — John McEnroe was 100 percent right when he said on CBS that the handling of the Peng Shuai cramping incident was a “black eye” for the U.S. Open.

    “It was horribly badly bungled…a serious black eye for our sport,” Mac said on air.

    As Ricky Ricardo used to say, “Somebody has some ‘splaining to do.”

    With the stunned Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd managing a shocked but polite applause, the 28-year-old Chinese was eventually taken off the court in a wheelchair following her retirement for what was called a heat illness against Caroline Wozniacki in Friday’s semifinals. Wozniacki advanced to the final against either Serena Williams or Ekaterina Makarova by the score of 7-6, 4-3, but there were so many unanswered questions after it was over.

    Why was Peng not penalized a point for the delay that occurred with Wozniacki serving at 4-3, 30-40? She stood against the back of the court for several minutes grabbing her right knee before a trainer ran on court to evaluate, but not treat the Chinese, as per tennis’s updated rules. Meantime, Wozniacki took practice serves from the other side of net.

    PengThroughout the delay, Peng was never penalized, yet Steve Johnson was awarded point and game penalties when he cramped up — and ultimately retired from — his first-round match.

    Throughout the entire bizarre incident, the scoreboard never changed.

    What thoughts were racing through the head of Peng, who underwent heart surgery as a teenager?

    “I know that she had heart surgery when she was 13 so I think that’s something that she was definitely worried about as well,” Wozniacki said later.

    Why, after retreating out of sight into the bowels of Ashe Stadium for about 10 minutes to consult with the trainer, the doctor and eventually the referee, where Mary Carillo reported Peng “is crying inside,” was she allowed to return to the court?

    Tournament director David Brewer later said on CBS that it was determined that Peng was not facing a life-threatening condition, and thus was allowed back on court.

    “This is absurd,” McEnroe said when a clearly hobbled Peng returned to try to return Wozniacki’s serve.

    “This is both unsafe for the Peng and unfair for Caroline,” Carillo said on air after Wozniacki walked over to Peng’s side of the court as the Chinese lay on the ground. “Somebody make a decision for her.”

    “Very difficult,” Wozniacki said on court of the experience after the umpire announced the retirement. “You’re out here and you want to battle and you want to finish it off properly. I just feel sorry for Peng because she played great out there and I hope she will be okay.”

    Brewer said Peng is “in our medical faciliy right now. She’s resting comfortably. She seems to be recovering by the moment.”

    That begs another important question, what will become of Peng in her native China after this courageous yet bizarre incident?

    I guess we’ll find out soon enough, but for now this was, as Johnny Mac said, a major “black eye” for the U.S. Open.

    Photos: Tennis Magazine

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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