Rafael Nadal explains ‘difficult’ view as Alexander Zverev avoids ban for umpire tirade
ALEXANDER ZVEREV was withdrawn from last month’s Mexico Open when he smashed the umpire’s chair with his racket.
Rafael Nadal has been left conflicted over the ATP’s punishment of Alexander Zverev. The German was withdrawn from the Mexico Open when he smashed the umpire’s chair in the middle of an x-rated rant and was found guilty of a ‘major offence’. He avoided a ban as he was slapped with a hefty fine and probation period instead, leaving world No 4 Nadal to worry that more players could follow Zverev’s behaviour.
Zverev was the defending champion in Acapulco last month where he also entered the doubles draw with good friend Marcelo Melo, a former world No 1 in doubles.
A match tiebreak was needed to decide the winner as opponents Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara went 8-6 up on what the world No 3 said was an unfair call, speaking a moment of anger from the defending champion.
“Look where the ball bounced. It’s 8-6 in the tie-break, look where the ball bounced. For f*** sake, it’s your line. It’s f****** your line. You f****** idiot,” he exclaimed after the point, as chair official Alessandro Germani didn’t budge on the score.
Zverev and Melo went on to lose the match and the tiebreak 10-6 as the 24-year-old continued his verbal attack on the umpire, also striking his chair multiple times with his racket.
“You f*****g destroyed the whole f*****g match. The whole f*****g match,” he screamed, as Germani’s leg could be seen flinching with each strike.
The Olympic champion was withdrawn from the tournament shortly after, fined £30,000 ($40,000) and forced to give up his £24,000 ($31,570) prize money and his ranking points earned in the event as well as pay his hotel costs.
The ATP then opened a further investigation into the incident and on Tuesday confirmed Zverev had been found guilty of a ‘major offence’, slapped with a further £19,000 ($25,000) fine and given an eight-week suspended ban, to kick in if he receives another code violation for similar offences in the next year.
Zverev’s punishment has drawn criticism with many unhappy to see the world No 3 already back in action in Indian Wells, and Nadal is among those who believe the lenient measures could set a “risky” precedent.
“It’s very difficult to talk about it in my position. I have differing opinions on this,” Nadal, who went on to win the title in Acapulco, told L’Equipe.
“I have a good relationship with Sascha, I like him, I often train with him and I wish him the best. He knows he was wrong, he recognized it quickly. This is what is positive on his side.”
While the 21-time Grand Slam champion was happy to see the 24-year-old still on tour, he admitted he thought the lack of a ban could leave more players believing they could get away with similar behaviour.
He continued: “But on the other hand, if we are not able to control this kind of behaviour on the court, his own but also other things that we have seen in recent months, to create a rule to sanction more harshly this kind of attitude, we players risk having a sense of impunity.”
“Sport must be a positive example for the children who watch us,” he explained.
“On the one hand, I don’t want Sascha to be punished because I like him.
“But on the other hand, as a fan of the sport, I would like greater penalties for this type of behaviour, not just his. It protects the sport, the referees and all the people who revolve around our sport.”