When in doubt, blame the officials. It’s a common behavior in sports. When in doubt, smash a tennis racket against an umpire’s chair, nearly striking him, which could’ve caused major harm? Deeply disturbing and pitiful. And that’s exactly what German tennis player Alexander Zverev did Tuesday.
Following a doubles loss alongside partner Marcelo Melo at the ATP’s Mexican Open, Zverev shook hands with his opponents, Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara, then decided to deliver a strong forehand and two backhands with his tennis racket to the umpire’s chair, coming close to making contact with umpire Alessandro Germani with each swing and denting his racket beyond repair.
Germani kept his composure, shaking Glasspool and Heliovaara’s hands, before Zverev decided to berate and curse at him. For good measure, Zverev took one final swing at his legs while the umpire was stepping down from his elevated position. On each of Zverev’s first three swings, Germani pulled his legs up in fear of being hit. Zverev handed his damaged racket to a child in the front row while walking off the Acapulco court. Melo did nothing to stop his partner’s aggressive behavior. Luckily, Germani walked away from the incident with no injuries.
Zverev’s outburst was over his disagreement over a line call during the match. The 24-year-old received a code violation after yelling and swearing in protest of that shot being ruled in, setting up match point. Glasspool ended the match with an ace, preceding Zverev’s violent actions toward Germani. The former U.S. Open finalist’s barbarism has gotten him banned from the singles portion of the tournament, which he won a year ago.
“Due to unsportsmanlike conduct at the conclusion of his doubles match on Tuesday night, Alexander Zverev has been withdrawn from the tournament in Acapulco,” the ATP said in a statement.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, the No. 3 player in the world, also posted an apology to his Instagram story to his 1.6 million followers, stating he’s already reached out to mend fences with Germani, luckily, not having to mend a leg injury himself. Fellow German Peter Gojowczyk will now get a bye and advance to the event’s quarterfinals.
“It is difficult to put into words how much I regret my behavior during and after the doubles match yesterday,” Zverev said. “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.”
“As you know, I leave everything on the court. Yesterday, I left too much. I am going to take the coming days to reflect — on my action and how I can ensure that it will not happen again. I am sorry for letting you down.”
Zverev’s unfathomable actions should earn him more punishments from the ATP, with a precedent already being set for this type of issue. In 2019, Australian Nick Kyrgios was initially fined $113,000 for berating an umpire and smashing a couple of rackets during a sanctioned event. Kyrgios was then dealt a 16-week suspension and a supplemental fine of $25,000 for “aggravated behavior” by the ATP following an internal investigation. The organization has yet to announce any further look into Zverev’s incident as of Wednesday morning. Zverev is already under a microscope with the ATP too. In October, it launched an internal investigation into allegations of domestic abuse against him by his ex-girlfriend Olga Sharypova.