Tennis

Alexander Zverev apologizes after outburst kicked him out of Mexican Open

Alexander Zverev apologizes after outburst kicked him out of Mexican Open

Third-ranked Alexander Zverev was expelled from the Mexican Open for violently smashing his racquet into the referee’s chair moments after losing a doubles match.

The incident took place after Zverev and Marcelo Melo lost to Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara 6-2, 4-6, 10-6 on Tuesday night in Acapulco.

Zverev hit the referee’s chair three times, sat down for a while, then got up and shouted at referee Alessandro Germani that he “destroyed the whole game (expletive)” and again hit the chair with his racquet as the referee descended. Germani had moved his feet back at one point for fear of being hit.

Minutes earlier, Zverev had been the victim of a code violation after he shouted and swore in protest at a shot that was called off, earning match point. Glasspool then finished the match with an ace.

“Due to unsportsmanlike conduct at the end of his doubles match on Tuesday night, Alexander Zverev has been removed from the Acapulco tournament,” the ATP announced on Twitter on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old German was the singles title holder. The ATP website shows his second-round opponent Peter Gojowczyk knocked down.

As the crowd booed, Zverev handed his damaged racquet to a child in the front row.

Zverev apologized in a statement posted to his Instagram account on Wednesday.

“It’s hard to say how much I regret my behavior during and after yesterday’s doubles match,” he wrote. “I privately apologized to the chair umpire because my outburst towards him was wrong and unacceptable, and I am not disappointed in myself. It just shouldn’t have happened and there is no excuse.

With a possible suspension looming, Zverev also apologized to the fans, to the tournament and to the “sport that I love”.

“As you know, I leave everything on the pitch,” he continued. “I left too much yesterday. I’m going to take the next few days to reflect — on my actions and how I can make sure it doesn’t happen again. I’m sorry I let you down.”

Zverev was playing in Mexico for the fifth time in his career, having won the title in 2021 beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

“It’s a shame for the tournament and for the fans what happened yesterday,” said tournament director Raul Zurutuza. “However, unsportsmanlike behavior is unacceptable. The rule book is clear on this and it must be enforced.

Zverev’s outburst of anger could earn him more punishment from the male governing body.

In 2019, after an initial fine of $113,000 for insulting and scolding a referee and breaking some racquets at the Western and Southern Open, Australian Nick Kyrgios was given a 16-day suspended ban. weeks and an additional $25,000 fine for “aggravated behavior”. by the ATP following an internal investigation.

The ATP launched an internal investigation in October into allegations of domestic violence against Zverev by his ex-girlfriend Olga Sharypova.

Earlier, Daniil Medvedev continued his pursuit of the No. 1 ranking with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Benoit Paire to advance to the second round.

The 26-year-old Russian can overtake Novak Djokovic for the top spot in the men’s rankings if he wins the title here.

Medvedev, who won the 2021 US Open and was runner-up to Rafael Nadal last month at the Australian Open, is playing in Mexico for the first time.

“It’s not easy to come back after a little rest and some time out of competition,” said Medvedev, who recovered from a breakdown in the second set. “I managed to fight until the end against a very tough opponent and I’m happy that I managed to win.”

He will next face Pablo Andujar, who beat Alex Hernandez 6-0, 6-1.

If Medvedev wins this tournament, or if he reaches the final in Acapulco and Djokovic does not win the title in Dubai, he will become the first player other than Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer or Andy Murray to hold the top spot since 2004. .

He said he was considering the milestone, but acknowledged it might not happen next week.

“I know in the next three tournaments it can be a possibility and that’s why I’m going to try to do it, because it’s not a dream anymore, it’s a goal,” he said. “And I will try to play well in the next three tournaments to achieve that.”

The likely biggest challenge for Medvedev in Mexico could be fourth-seeded Nadal, who started with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Denis Kudla.

Nadal, who won titles in Acapulco in 2005, 13 and 20, will next face Stefan Kozlov on Wednesday.

Medvedev could meet Nadal for the first time since the Australian Open semi-final in Acapulco. Nadal rallied to win the final at Melbourne Park in five sets to claim a men’s record 21st Grand Slam singles title, breaking a tie with Federer and Djokovic. It also prevented Medvedev from becoming the first man in the Open era to win his second major title at the upcoming Grand Slam event.

Nadal first said after winning the Australian title that he considered skipping Acapulco to rest his body in order to play Indian Wells, but then decided to head to Mexico again.

“In recent years, I’ve played fewer tournaments… and now I do it where I want to, and at this stage of my career, it’s a place (that) makes me feel good”, Nadal said.

Unlike Medvedev, Nadal, 35, said the top finish was no longer something he dreamed of.

“That time has passed for me. I think all my physical issues have taken that chance away from me and I’m not pursuing that goal anymore. It would be a mistake for me to pursue it,” he said. “If I can do that by only playing the tournaments that I can, I would be very happy.”

He said that was unlikely, given the number and quality of young players who can compete in more tournaments than him.

In Tuesday’s other matches, Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Laslo Djere 7-6(7) 7-6(4), Tommy Paul qualified for a meeting with Dusan Lajovic when fifth-seeded Matteo Berrettini got pulled from their match in the second set due to an abdomen. injury and Yoshihito Nishioka beat Feliciano Lopez 2-6, 6-0, 6-4.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.