ACAPULCO: German Olympic tennis champion Alexander Zverev said there “was no excuse” for smashing his racket on the umpire’s chair several times and his foul-mouthed rant at the official was “unacceptable”, as he was expelled from the Acapulco Open by the ATP.
Zverev, ranked three in the world, posted an apology posted on his Instagram account a few hours after his expulsion.
“It is difficult to put into words how much I regret my behavior during and after the doubles match yesterday,” he wrote.
“I have privately apologised to the chair umpire because my outburst towards him was wrong and unacceptable.”
Zverev lost his cool after he and doubles partner Marcelo Melo of Brazil fell 6-2, 4-6, 10-6 to Briton Lloyd Glasspool and Finn Harri Heliovaara.
The 24-year-old defending singles champion smashed his racket three times just below umpire Alessandro Germani’s feet before taking his seat and then rising again to shout at the official and smash the chair once more.
He had apparently been irked by a line call during the match.
Zverev had been involved in a marathon first-round singles clash with American Jenson Brooksby that finished at 4:54 am local time (1054 GMT) Tuesday morning, the latest-ever finish to a professional tennis match.
Zverev’s mood may have been affected by fatigue after another long match in the doubles ended in defeat, but he nevertheless risks further punishment from the ATP.
“If the Senior Vice President Rules & Competition determines that the default was particularly injurious to the success of the tournament or detrimental to the integrity of the sport, he may consider additional penalties,” reads the ATP rule book
Zverev said he would be reflecting on his behaviour.
“As you know I leave everything out on the court,” he wrote.
“Yesterday I left too much. I am going to take the coming days to reflect on my actions and how I can ensure that it will not happen again.”
His behaviour quickly became a talking point across the tennis world.
After losing to Jannik Sinner in the Dubai Open on Wednesday, former world number one Andy Murray, who received a code violation for racquet abuse during the match, faced questions about Zverev.
“It was not good. It was dangerous, reckless,” replied the Scot.
“I obviously understand lots of players, athletes across lots of sports, can get very frustrated. Certainly me, myself, I’ve not always acted in the way I would want on the tennis court. I’m certainly not claiming to be an angel.”
“However, when you’re ripping your tennis racquet right next to the umpire multiple times, yeah, you can’t be doing that.”
Zverev is no stranger to controversy — he is still being investigated by the ATP over allegations he was violent towards a former girlfriend.
He denies the accusation.
In June 2020, he was criticised for partying in a bar, when he had promised to self-isolate for two weeks, after competing in a tournament organised by Novak Djokovic in front of spectators, against medical advice on the Covid-19 pandemic.
Several players including Djokovic contracted Covid-19.
Zverev’s expulsion is a relatively rare occurrence.
The famously temperamental John McEnroe was disqualified from the 1990 Australian Open for insulting the umpire as was Argentinian David Nalbandian in the 2012 Queen’s final for kicking out and unintentionally connecting with a line judge.
Djokovic was disqualified from the 2020 US Open for accidentally hitting a lineswoman.
Maverick Australian Nick Kyrgios was expelled from the Rome tournament in 2019 for throwing a chair and Canada’s Denis Shapovalov in the Davis Cup tie with Britain in 2017 after inadvertently hitting the umpire in the face with a ball.
Zverev’s tantrum was not the only notable incident on Tuesday in a tournament that has attracted world number two Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nada.
Australian John Millman retired from his match after defecting the ball into his eye as he prepared to serve.
The 32-year-old made light of it in an Instagram post with a patch over the eye and the tag “Always got to watch the ball.”

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