NEW YORK -- Like a schoolkid chastised by a teacher for texting in class, a player at the U.S. Open was caught using his cellphone during a changeover and was admonished by the chair umpire.
Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, the runner-up at the 2006 Australian Open, got in trouble Sunday while losing his fourth-round match against 10th-seeded Gael Monfils of France 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.
Baghdatis explained to reporters that he was trying to send a message to his wife.
After getting broken to fall behind 4-1 in the second set, Baghdatis sat in his sideline chair during a changeover and fiddled with his phone, holding it near a white towel that was on his lap. Using a phone during a professional tennis match is not allowed, and chair umpire Alison Hughes noticed what was going on.
So after telling the two players the break was over, she announced to the crowd at the Grandstand, “Code violation. Unsportsmanlike conduct. Warning, Baghdatis.”
At the subsequent changeover, two games later, the 31-year-old Baghdatis stood near Hughes’ chair to discuss the warning and plead his case, offering this defense: “I cannot look at the time? (What) if I want to look at the time?”
Later, though, speaking with a handful of reporters, Baghdatis copped to what he really had been doing with his phone in his hand during a Grand Slam tournament.
“I was just writing a message to my wife,” he said with a smile.
Asked whether he thought the warning issued by Hughes was fair, Baghdatis replied: “Yeah, I mean, there is rules, so I guess I broke the rules. So I got a warning for it.”
A reporter wanted to know whether Baghdatis might reveal what he was typing on the phone in the middle of a match.
“No way I’m going to share what the message was,” he said, laughing heartily. “Nice try, though. No way.”
Baghdatis said this was not something he ever had tried before as a pro on tour.
“But,” he added, “I said, ‘Why not?’”