French Open line judge struck in the neck in ‘nasty’ incident at Roland Garros

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A line judge nearly suffered a nasty injury after failing to dodge a powerful serve by Gregoire Barrere in the Frenchman’s defeat to Fabio Fognini on the first day of the French Open.

Barrere was serving during the maiden game of the final set to try to work a way back into the match against the world No 27 Fognini.

The Italian had won the opening two sets 6-4, 6-1 at Roland Garros.

Fognini was leading 15-0 at the start of the third set when Barerre fired a first serve down the court.

The ball was called out by the umpire but continued to fly in the direction of a line judge who failed to move out of the way.

The line judge just about managed to turn her head as the ball struck her in the lower neck region. It drew a wince from the crowd.

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Barrere could be seen raising his hand to apologise to the line judge, who nodded in the direction of Fognini to confirm that she was okay.

Eurosport tennis expert Annabel Croft was commentating on the game and said: “Ouch! Aw, gosh that was nasty, wasn’t it!

“Good job it didn’t hit them in the face!”

Play resumed without her needing treatment and Barerre’s second serve struck the net to hand Fognini a 30-0 lead.

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The 34-year-old Fognini went on to comfortably win 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in straight sets. He will play Marton Fucsovics in the second round.

World No 3 Rafael Nadal is favourite to win his 14th French Open and a fifth successive title.

He defeated Novak Djokovic in last year’s final.

Nadal is in the same half of the draw as both Djokovic and Roger Federer. A potential semi-final between Nadal and Djokovic is possible.

The Spaniard must first beat Australian Alexei Popyrin. Meanwhile, Djokovic faces a first-round match against Tennys Sandgren.

“You can win Roland Garros after winning events before and you can win Roland Garros without winning events before. I want to win events before Roland Garros because I like winning them,” Nadal said before the tournament.

“Of course, it’s easier to win Roland Garros when you have won events in a row before during the clay-court season, as I’ve done throughout my career.

“But at the same time I’m nearly 35 and my situation is a little bit different. The main goal for me is to give myself a chance. I want to give myself chances to be competitive in every single event.”

Djokovic is hoping to win the French Open for just the second time.

The 34-year-old added: “I saw the draw. It’s the first time, I think ever, where Roger, Rafa and myself are in the same half of the draw in any Grand Slam.

“It’s going to be very interesting for sure. Only one of us can make the final. I’m going to obviously do my best to be that guy who reaches the final match.”
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