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Fourth round flop

No. 4 seed Norman crashes out in sporting style

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Posted: Monday January 22, 2001 8:27 AM
Updated: Monday January 22, 2001 9:43 AM

  Magnus Norman Magnus Norman made last year's Australian Open semifinals and the final of the French Open. Clive Brunskill/Allsport

MELBOURNE (Reuters) -- Sebastien Grosjean paid tribute to fourth seed Magnus Norman on Monday after the Swedish fourth seed ignored a let call on match point to allow the Frenchman to go into the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

Grosjean, the 16th seed, sent down what appeared to be an ace on his third match point against Norman.

But as he celebrated and Norman walked towards the net to shake hands, chair umpire Mike Morrisey strode on to court to inform the players that the ball had clipped the top of the net.

It should have given Norman a reprieve, and forced Grosjean to take his first serve again, but the world number four rejected the opportunity and insisted the match was over -- handing Grosjean a 7-6, 6-3, 0-6, 6-4 victory.

He shook Grosjean's hand to let the 22-year-old Frenchman know he could enjoy his achievement of reaching the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career.

Grosjean said: "The net machine was on but Magnus told me that he had not heard any noise. I did not hear anything either.

"He told the umpire and then said 'the match is over'.

"That has never happened to me, certainly not on match point.

"I don't know why he did it -- but Magnus is a nice guy. He is a competitive player but he is very fair.

"It was a very good thing to do. I'm not sure if I would do the same in future."

Morrisey later confirmed there had been a let.

Norman's selfless act means that this year's Australian Open has lost its top four seeds. Number one Gustavo Kuerten, second seed Marat Safin and number three Pete Sampras all made their exits prior to Norman's downfall.

It is only the third time since the Open era began in 1968 that a grand slam tournament has lost its top four men's seeds. The previous two occasions were both in 1999, at the Australian and French Opens.

Norman, 24, said: "The ball was clearly above the top of the net, even though the umpire told us both there had been a let.

"I did not think there had been a let. If I had taken it and the match had turned around, I'm not sure I could have gone home feeling good about myself.

"My mother always told me when I was growing up that I should play hard but also fairly. That's why I gave it to him.

"Anyway, I didn't deserve to win. I did not play a good match, I made too many mistakes."

Norman was angered by a line call on the previous point, when Grosjean's service winner was called good and not overruled by Morrisey in the chair.

Norman maintained afterwards that the ball was clearly out but he also maintained his sense of humor.

There is a fair play award given at the end of each season to a deserving recipient in the men's game and Norman said: "It will be difficult to give it to anyone else after this."

Grosjean faces Spaniard Carlos Moya in the quarterfinals, with the winner to meet either Russian fifth seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov or French 15th seed Arnaud Clement in the semifinals.

Grosjean said: "Carlos is a great player who will be very difficult to beat.

"I am just happy to have a chance to play in a quarterfinal match. It will be very special."

 
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