Japan’s Miyu Kato reaches French Open mixed double finals days after disqualification

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Japanese tennis star Miyu Kato reached the French Open mixed doubles finals on Wednesday, just three days after being disqualified from the women’s doubles.

Reaching the finals: Kato, 28, was seen with a big smile on her face as she and her German partner Tim Puetz, 35, won their way into the Roland-Garros mixed doubles finals, beating Dutch player Matwe Middlekoop and Indonesian player Aldila Sutjiadi 7-5 and 6-0.

What happened: Kato and Sutjiadi, her women’s doubles partner, were both disqualified on Sunday after the Japanese tennis player accidentally hit a ball girl on the opposite side of the court.

While the umpire initially gave Kato a warning, their opponents, Czech player Marie Bouzkova and Spanish player Sara Sorribes Tormo, protested that the Japanese player should be disqualified as the ball girl was visibly distressed by the accident

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The umpire then confirmed the disqualification, bringing Kato to tears.

The aftermath: Disappointed by the decision, Kato took to Twitter on Monday to apologize to the ball girl, her partner Sutjiadi and her supporters for the “unfortunate mishap” that was “completely unintentional.” She also explained that the disqualification resulted in Roland-Garros forfeiting her prize money and points.

Kato still appeared to be upset by what happened over the weekend during a press conference with her German partner on Monday after winning the semifinals.

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What the rules say: Section M of the Grand Slam rulebook states that players are not allowed to “violently, dangerously or with anger hit, kick or throw a tennis ball within the precincts of the tournament site except in the reasonable pursuit of a point during a match (including warm-up).”

What others are saying: Three-time Grand Slam women's doubles champion Sugiyama Ai believed that the decision to disqualify and punish Kato was “too harsh,” she told NHK. Sugiyama noted that Kato was not venting her anger when the accident occurred.

The Professional Tennis Players Association also supported Kato in a statement shared on Twitter, saying what happened was “unjustifiably disproportionate and unfair."

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