German Olympic tennis champion Alexander Zverev has been expelled from the Mexican Open in Acapulco after repeatedly smashing his racket into the referee’s chair and directing a rude rant at the official, according to the ATP.
“Due to unsportsmanlike conduct at the end of his doubles match on Tuesday night, Alexander Zverev has been removed from the Acapulco tournament,” the men’s tennis governing body tweeted.
Zverev – ranked world number three – lost his temper when he and doubles partner Marcelo Melo of Brazil were beaten 6-2, 4-6, 10-6 by Britain’s Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliövaara of Finland.
The 24-year-old defending champion smashed his racket three times just below referee Alessandro Germani’s feet before sitting down and then rising to verbally insult the official and smash the chair one last time.
He had apparently been irritated by a line call during the game.
Zverev had been involved in a marathon first-round singles clash with American Jenson Brooksby that ended early Tuesday morning – the last finish in a professional tennis match.
Zverev saved two match points before claiming a 3-6, 7-6 (12/10), 6-2 victory at 04:54 local time (10:54 GMT).
The tie in the first round of the ATP event lasted three hours and 19 minutes.
Zverev’s mood may have been affected by fatigue after another long match in the doubles loss, but he still faces another ATP punishment.
“If the Senior Vice President Rules and Competition determines that the defect was particularly detrimental to the success of the tournament or detrimental to the integrity of the sport, he may consider additional sanctions (fines and/or suspensions),” reads in the ATP rulebook. .
“Always watch the ball”
Zverev’s expulsion is a relatively rare event on the men’s circuit.
Famous wayward John McEnroe was disqualified from the 1990 Australian Open for insulting the referee, as was Argentinian David Nalbandian in the 2012 Queen’s final for being sent off and unwittingly connecting with a linesman.
World number one Novak Djokovic has been disqualified from the 2020 US Open for accidentally rather than design hitting a linesman.
Others to fall foul of officials include Australian sniper Nick Kyrgios kicked out of the Rome tournament in 2019 for throwing a chair and Canadian Denis Shapovalov was forfeited in the Davis Cup tie with Great Britain in 2017 after inadvertently hitting the referee in the face with a ball.
Zverev’s anger wasn’t the only incident of note on Tuesday in a tournament that drew world number two Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal, who beat the Russian in an epic Australian Open final to become the record holder for Grand Slam singles titles with 21.
Australian John Millman had to abandon his match after being hit in the eye by a ball as he tried to kick it over his head.
The 32-year-old later made light of it in an Instagram post with a patch over the injured eye and the tag ‘Always watch the ball’.