World number three Alexander Zverev has been thrown out of the Mexican Open after “unsportsmanlike conduct” that saw him attack the umpire’s chair at the end of a doubles match in Acapulco.
Germany’s Zverev argued with the umpire during the decisive tie-break as he and Marcelo Melo lost 6-2 4-6 10-6 to Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara. Zverev struck the umpire’s chair several times with his racquet.
The 24-year-old later apologized, calling his behaviour “unacceptable”. Zverev was the defending champion in the singles event. “Due to unsportsmanlike conduct at the conclusion of his doubles match on Tuesday night, Alexander Zverev has been withdrawn from the tournament in Acapulco,” an ATP statement read.
His opponent Peter Gojowczyk has been given a walkover into the third round. Zverev wrote on Instagram that he had “privately apologized” to umpire Alessandro Germani and said he was “disappointed in myself”.
“As you know, I leave everything on the court. Yesterday, I left too much,” he wrote. “I am going to take the coming days to reflect – on my actions and how I can ensure that it will not happen again.” Britain’s Andy Murray said Zverev’s behaviour was “dangerous and reckless”, while Novak Djokovic – the men’s world number one – added the decision to disqualify the German was “correct”.
Former world number one Murray said: “I obviously understand lots of players, athletes across lots of sports, can get very frustrated. “I’ve not always acted in the way I would want on the tennis court. I’m certainly not claiming to be an angel. I’m not perfect myself. “However, when you’re ripping your tennis racket right next to the umpire multiple times, you can’t be doing that.”
Zverev believed a ball was incorrectly called out during the tie-break and began yelling at the umpire, with the crowd taking the official’s side. Britain’s Glasspool and Finland’s Heliovaara then wrapped up the match with an ace on the next point. Zverev hit the chair with his racquet three times and came close to hitting the umpire’s foot at one point.
He continued yelling at the umpire and took another swing as the umpire moved to climb down from his chair. The ATP defines unsportsmanlike conduct as “any misconduct by a player that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the success of a tournament, ATP and/or the sport”.
Zverev is being investigated by the ATP over allegations that he was violent towards a former girlfriend. He has repeatedly denied the claims. Sleep deprived, no doubt, after playing singles until nearly 5:00 am the same morning, Zverev still has absolutely no excuse for his abusive, aggressive and menacing behaviour.
Umpire Germani and all his colleagues will now be looking towards the ATP for action. The first call belongs to the tournament supervisor. He is likely to decide later today to withhold Zverev’s prize money and issue the Olympic champion with a fine. And then the ATP’s senior vice-president for rules and competition must decide whether Zverev’s behaviour constitutes a ‘Player Major Offence’.
If Zverev is found guilty under that code, as Nick Kyrgios was in 2019, he would be subject to a heavy fine and even a possible suspension from the tour.