June 14, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Zverev Acapulco sanctions suspended, pending choir boy behaviour for 12 months

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Alexander Zverev will be the No. 2 seed at the BNP Paribas Open, at the bottom of the 96-player men’s singles draw when it is made on Tuesday.

So those calling for the 24-year-old German to miss tournaments because of his violent outburst against chair umpire Alessandro Germani in the first round of the ATP tournament in Acapulco two weeks ago will not have their voices heard.

The verdict is in from the ATP’s senior vice-president of rules and competition, Miro Bratoev.

The decision is that the assault was considered a major offense, specifically “Aggravated Behaviour”.

Zverev will get assessed a additional fine of $25,000 (in addition to the $40,000 he was fined immediately after the incident) and an eight-week suspension from ATP Tour events.

Except …

HOLD THE PHONE

Both the additional fine and the suspension are … on hold.

If Zverev can manage to keep his behaviour in check for the next 12 months (until Feb. 23, 2023 – a year from the day of the incident) – the fine and the suspension are voided.

Specifically, Zverev can’t be assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct “based upon an act, such as disrespectful or aggressive behaviour directed towards an official, opponent, spectator, or other person during or upon conclusion of a match”.

Also, he can’t get a code violation for “Verbal or Physical Abuse of an official, opponent, spectator, or any other person while on-court or on-site”.

You wonder if the chair umpire in the line of fire (or any umpires who might be assigned to his matches) were consulted.

Close to a potentially serious situation

In other words, the multimillionaire Zverev doesn’t have to open his wallet for any more of the pocket change he was fined after the incident. And he will escape the eight-week suspension if he keeps his temper in check at tournaments.

It’s pretty specific.

He can probably destroy his racquet. Just as long as he doesn’t use a piece of equipment that has a tournament official sitting on it while he does it.

The ATP Tour added in its statement that the determination of what constitutes a “major offence” is made by Bratoev, “independently of ATP Management and Board.”

If Zverev wants to appeal it (this feels … unlikely?), he has until Friday.

ATP priors on suspended sanctions

The “suspended sanction pending good behaviour” route is not an uncommon one for the ATP Tour to take.

In fact, this is what Open Court predicted would be the outcome.

Remember, not so long ago, when Sam Querrey tested positive during an ATP event in St. Petersburg, Russia?

And rather than put himself in the hands of the Russian medical officials, he pulled off a midnight run with his wife and baby.

It was quite the thing. And, given how strict the COVID-19 protocols were at the time, fairly embarrassing for the ATP Tour that one of its players made a mockery of the procedures in that country.

The final outcome? A suspended fine, if he didn’t contravene the COVID protocols within the following six months.

A similar suspended suspension was issued for Nick Kyrgios, after an incident in Cincinnati. The particulars aren’t dissimilar to those assessed to Zverev.

Zverev’s anger spills over

Zverev’s repeated and potentially dangerous whacking of his racquet on the chair umpire’s perch in Acapulco, very close to his feet, destroyed the racquet. It’s hard to know how much damage could have been caused had he actually made contact with Germani.

All this over a line call at the end of Zverev’s first-round doubles match with friend Marcelo Melo of Brazil.

For his trouble, Zverev forfeited his first-round loser’s share of the doubles purse, and his first-round winner’s prize money. But he was withdrawn from the singles.

Right down to Davis Cup

Meanwhile, after Zverev issued an apology on social media, he then headed down to Brazil to play Davis Cup for Germany.

(Notably, that Instagram post was on his story – so it was vapor after a day. His latest Instagram post is a magazine fashion shoot with a slurpy feature to accompany it).

Notably, during the period during which Roger Federer’s agency, Team 8, was managing him, he said he turned the page on this new incarnation of Davis Cup.

Perhaps he thought doing something for his country would be a good PR move. Going from hard court to South American clay and then back up to the U.S. to go back on a hard court isn’t the ideal itinerary for the body.

The first match of the tie with Brazil was… quite the photo op.

No. 1 Zverev played Brazilian No. 2 Thiago Seyboth Wild.

What do they have in common? Well, both have been accused of domestic violence by former girlfriends recently.

The photo op at the net was … odd, given the circumstances.

Zverev and Seyboth Wild pose with a fan before they opened up the Germany vs Brazil Davis Cup qualifier Friday.

Zverev got through that match 6-4, 6-2.

On Saturday, Zverev clinched the tie with a 6-1, 7-5 win over another Thiago – Monteiro.

The Brazilian crowd was a bit rough on him and his supporters (this was … not the first time someone felt the wrath of Brazilian sports fans, and it won’t be the last).

At one point, they chanted “Acapulco!!”, just to remind Zverev of … things.

According to some reports they also chanted the name of the ex-girlfriend who made the accusations of domestic violence against him in a pair of stories written by tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg.

And despite Germany’s winning tally on the scoreboard, which was the purpose of the exercise, Zverev couldn’t keep it shut.

It’ll be fascinating to see how Zverev is received in Indian Wells, where the “patriotic” element is taken out of the equation.

As well, the demographic isn’t such that too many are paying close attention to this type of stuff in the news and on social media.

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