Acapulco (Mexico) (AFP), February 24 – German Olympic tennis champion Alexander Zverev said there was “no excuse” for smashing his racket into the referee’s chair repeatedly and that his rude rant against the official was “unacceptable” because he was expelled from the Acapulco Open by the ATP.
Zverev, ranked third in the world, posted an apology posted on his Instagram account hours after his expulsion.
“It’s hard to say how much I regret my behavior during and after yesterday’s doubles match,” he wrote.
“I privately apologized to the chair umpire because my outburst towards him was wrong and unacceptable.”
Zverev lost his temper after he and his doubles partner Marcelo Melo of Brazil lost 6-2, 4-6, 10-6 to Britain’s Lloyd Glasspool and Finn Harri Heliovaara.
The 24-year-old defending singles champion smashed his racquet three times just below referee Alessandro Germani’s feet before sitting down, then rising to yell at the official and smash the chair a once again.
He had apparently been irritated by a line call during the game.
Zverev had been involved in a marathon first-round singles clash with American Jenson Brooksby that ended at 4:54 a.m. local time (1054 GMT) on Tuesday morning, the last finish of a professional tennis match.
Zverev’s mood may have been affected by fatigue after another long doubles match that ended in defeat, but he still faces another ATP punishment.
“If the Senior Vice President Rules and Competition determines that the default was particularly detrimental to the success of the tournament or detrimental to the integrity of the sport, he may consider additional sanctions,” reads the rules book of the ATP.
– ‘Dangerous, reckless’ –
Zverev said he would reflect on his behavior.
“As you know I leave it all on the pitch,” he wrote.
“Yesterday, I left too much. I will take the next few days to reflect on my actions and how I can make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
His behavior quickly became a talking point in the tennis world.
After losing to Jannik Sinner at the Dubai Open on Wednesday, former world number one Andy Murray, who received a code violation for racquet abuse during the match, was asked about Zverev.
“It was not good. It was dangerous, reckless,” replied the Scotsman.
“I obviously understand that many players, athletes in many sports, can be very frustrated. Certainly me, myself, I have not always acted as I would like on the tennis court. I certainly don’t claim to be an angel.
“However, when you rip your tennis racket right next to the referee multiple times, yeah, you can’t do that.”
Zverev is no stranger to controversy – he is still under investigation by the ATP over allegations that he was violent towards a former girlfriend.
He denies the charge.
In June 2020, he was criticized for partying in a bar, when he promised to isolate himself for two weeks, after playing a tournament organized by Novak Djokovic in front of spectators, against medical advice on the pandemic. of Covid-19.
Several players including Djokovic have contracted Covid-19.
Zverev’s expulsion is a relatively rare event.
– ‘Always watch the ball’ –
Famous wayward John McEnroe was disqualified from the 1990 Australian Open for insulting the referee, as was Argentinian David Nalbandian in the 2012 Queen’s final for being sent off and unwittingly connecting with a linesman.
Djokovic has been disqualified from the 2020 US Open for accidentally hitting a linesman.
Australian Maverick Nick Kyrgios was expelled from the Rome tournament in 2019 for throwing a chair and Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the Davis Cup tie with Great Britain in 2017 after inadvertently hitting the referee in the face with a ball.
Zverev’s anger wasn’t the only notable incident on Tuesday in a tournament that drew world number two Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nada.
Australian John Millman withdrew from his match after hitting the ball in his eye as he prepared to serve.
The 32-year-old made light of it in an Instagram post with an eye patch and the ‘Always watch the ball’ tag.