‘How does Zverev keep getting away with it?’ Tennis shocked by ATP’s lenient punishment
The tennis world seems to be almost universally shocked by the leniency of the ATP’s latest announcement
The world No 3 was withdrawn from the singles tournament, where he was defending champion, after his behaviour in a doubles match, when he struck the chair upon which umpire Alessandro Germani was sitting. He had already sworn at Germani after disagreeing with a call, and then after losing with partner Marcelo Melo against Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara, he hit the chair four times with his racquet, forcing the umpire to move quickly out of the way, and shouted more abuse.
And now the ATP have announced that Zverev is on probation for one year. If he commits any code violation of unsportsmanlike conduct or verbal or physical abuse that incurs a fine in that time, he will pay an additional fine of $25,000 and be suspended for a period of eight weeks from any ATP-sanctioned event.
Shriver on Zverev – ‘What am I missing?’
The leniency of the decision has been almost universally criticised. Former doubles world No 1 Pam Shriver asked rhetorically: “Name another sport that would not protect its officials who have been physically attacked and intimidated by a competitor, by serving a probation vs a suspension? What am I missing?”
Richard Ings, the ATP’s former vice-president of rules and officiating, called it “weak”, and followed that up with an interview with the UK’s Daily Telegraph.
“They’ve called it unsportsmanlike conduct, but this is akin to physical abuse, smashing the umpire’s chair with your racquet,” he said.
“I’ve seen players get frustrated. I’ve seen them smack balls away angrily. But I’ve not seen anyone smash the umpire’s chair, not once, not twice but four times. You’ve got to ask, what did he need to do to be suspended? Break the umpire’s leg? Draw blood? That was as bad as it gets without physicaly putting the umpire in hospital.”
Fans on social media have described it as “a joke”, “a disgrace” and “appalling”.
One fan even asked: “How does he keep getting away with it?”
Many agreed with Serena Williams’s comments earlier in the week, where she suggested that if she had behaved in a similar way, she would be “in jail”, harking back to her well-publicised run-ins with officials at two US Opens – the line judge in the 2009 semi-final against Kim Clijsters, and the umpire in the 2018 final against Naomi Osaka after picking up a game penalty.
McNamee – ‘There are mitigating factors’
Zverev can perhaps take heart that he does have at least one high-profile supporter, four-time doubles Grand Slam champion Paul McNamee, who thought the decision fair.
“You need to remember he was made to play singles until 4.30am the previous night, which would be a mitigating factor… the adjudicator, Miro Bratoev, is a highly experienced and respected official, and I wouldn’t second-guess his judgement,” he wrote on Twitter.
The tennis world is still awaiting further news on the ATP’s previously announced internal investigation into the allegations of abuse made by his ex-girlfriend Olya Sharypova.