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Alexander Zverev is defaulted in Acapulco: The facts and the possible punishment

Alexander Zverev was defaulted from the ATP event in Acapulco on Tuesday night after he erupted in anger towards the end of a doubles match, hitting the umpire’s chair a number of times with his racquet

Alexander Zverev Acapulco 2022 AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Alexander Zverev was defaulted from the ATP event in Acapulco on Tuesday night after he erupted in anger towards the end of his doubles match with Marcelo Melo against Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara, hitting the umpire’s chair a number of times with his racquet.

Here’s what happened, and what is now likely to happen as a result.

What happened: Zverev hits umpire’s chair four times

Melo was serving at 6-8 in the final-set tiebreak when a return which landed close to the sideline was called in. Melo clearly thought it was out, too, but Zverev began to react in anger, swearing towards the umpire, Alessandro Germani.

“Look where the ball bounced,” he said. “For f***’s sake. Look where the ball bounced. It’s f***ing your line. You’re a f***ing idiot.” Zverev was given an official warning for the outburst.

The match was completed, with Glasspool banging down an ace to win it 10-6 and clinch victory. It was then that the trouble really began, with Zverev aiming three swipes of his racquet onto the umpire’s chair, very close to his feet.

The German then sat down but then got up again. After shouting, “you f***ing destroyed the whole f***ing match, the whole f***ing match”, before hitting the chair again, as the umpire was busy getting down.

Zverev was then booed by some fans as he gathered his stuff, before leaving the court.

Next: Zverev is defaulted from the entire tournament

Zverev was still officially in the singles event, due to play Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk, a lucky loser, in the second round, having been involved in the latest ever finish to an ATP Tour match in his first-round win over Jenson Brooksby.

But a statement from the ATP soon after confirmed that the world No 3 had been defaulted from the entire event.

What happened next: Video goes viral, Zverev apologises

Not surprisingly, the incident and the video itself – which can be seen here on the Eurosport website – went viral on social media and provoked huge reaction, with many people, including former world No 1 Andy Murray, who was playing this week in Dubai, giving their opinion.

Brad Gilbert, Patrick McEnroe and Tracy Austin were among those calling for the ATP to give Zverev a suspension.

On Wednesday morning, Mexico time, Zverev issued an apology, in which he said he regretted his behaviour and confirmed that he had spoken to the umpire to apologise to him in person. The German also said he would “take the coming days to reflect” and that he hopes to ensure it will never happen again.

What will happen next? Zverev facing hefty fine, possible suspension

First, Zverev will lose his ranking points from the tournament in Acapulco and the prize money he had already earned from the week. But that’s likely to be just the start of it.

The ATP Supervisor on site will assess and issue any fine to Zverev. But under ATP Tour rules, the matter could be referred to the Senior Vice President of Rules and Competition, who will then determine if the incident should be investigated under the “Major Offense/Conduct Contrary to the Integrity of the Game” rule.

Zverev was defaulted for Unsportsmanlike conduct”, which as per page 208 of the ATP rulebook, could mean he is subject to a heavy fine and a suspension from the ATP Tour.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

i)                    Players shall at all times conduct themselves in a sportsmanlike manner and give due regard to the authority of officials and the rights of opponents, spectators and others. Unsportsmanlike conduct is defined as any misconduct by a player that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the success of a tournament, ATP and/or the Sport. In addition, unsportsmanlike conduct shall include, but not be limited to, the giving, making, issuing, authorizing or endorsing any public statement having, or designed to have, an effect prejudicial or detrimental to the best interest of the tournament and/or the officiating thereof.

iii) Violation of this section shall subject a player to a fine up to $20,000 for each violation. In addition, if such violation occurs during a match, the player shall be penalized in accordance with the Point Penalty Schedule. In circumstances that are flagrant and particularly injurious to the success of a tournament, or are singularly egregious, the ATP Supervisor may refer the matter to the ATP SVP – Rules & Competition who shall conduct an investigation to determine whether the player Major Offense of Aggravated Behavior or Conduct Contrary to the Integrity of the Game has occurred. Prize money earned at that event shall be held by ATP until the ATP SVP – Rules & competition has concluded his investigation and made a determination.

If Zverev’s conduct is deemed to be a “Major Offense of Aggravated Behavior” then he could be subject to a fine of $25,000 and a suspension of at least 21 days up to a maximum of a year.

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