World No. 3 Alexander Zverev was kicked out of the ATP 500 tournament in Acapulco for “unsportsmanlike conduct” after smashing his racket repeatedly against the umpire’s chair following a double defeat.
The German later apologized for his behavior after he and Brazil’s Marcelo Melo lost 6-2, 4-6 (10-6) to the British-Finn pair of Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara.
Zverev came perilously close to hitting umpire Alessandro Germani during his tantrum in Mexico.
“Due to unsportsmanlike conduct at the conclusion of his doubles match on Tuesday night, Alexander Zverev has been withdrawn from the tournament in Acapulco,” the ATP said in a statement.
Zverev said he regretted his behavior.
“It is difficult to put into words how much I regret my behavior during and after the doubles match yesterday,” Zverev said in a statement.
“I have privately apologized to the chair umpire because my outburst towards him was wrong and unacceptable, and I am only disappointed in myself.
“It just should not have happened and there is no excuse. I would also like to apologize to my fans, the tournament, and the sport that I love.”
After shaking hands with the opponents, the 24-year-old Zverev, ranked third in singles, approached the umpire’s chair and hit it repeatedly before heading towards his courtside seat, upset over a line call earlier in the match.
He approached the chair a second time and again hit it while shouting expletives.
The former US Open finalist had completed a first-round singles win over American Jenson Brooksby in the tournament at 4.55 am local time on Tuesday, the latest ever finish for a professional tennis match.
Zverev, last year’s winner, had been scheduled to meet fellow German Peter Gojowczyk, who will now get a walkover to advance to the quarterfinals.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, asked about the incident in Dubai where he is playing, said the disqualification was correct, but offered some support for Zverev.
“I’ve made mistakes in the past where I’ve had tantrums on the court,” Djokovic told reporters. “I understand what the player is going through. But, of course, I do not justify his actions. I think the disqualification decision was not too harsh. I think it was correct under the circumstances.”
Djokovic was disqualified from the 2020 US Open after inadvertently hitting a female line judge with a ball hit away after losing a point.
Former world No. 1 Andy Murray, also competing in Dubai, described Zverev’s outburst as “dangerous and reckless.”
“When you’re ripping your tennis racket right next to the umpire multiple times, yeah, you can’t be doing that,” he said.
Zverev’s angry outburst could earn him more sanctions from the ATP. In 2019, after an initial fine of $113,000, Australian Nick Kyrgios was given a suspended ban of 16 weeks and an additional fine of $25,000 for “aggravated behavior” by the ATP following an internal investigation.
The ATP in October last year also launched an internal investigation into allegations of domestic abuse against Zverev, by his ex-girlfriend Olga Sharypova. – Rappler.com