In Acapulco, Alexander Zverev attacked an umpire (he didn’t hit him directly, but it was close enough). But what was Zverev’s penalty?
The attack wasn’t pretty and the tennis world seemed to agree that some kind of suspension was in order for hothead Zverev (he still has his abuse allegation from the ex-girlfriend, so this didn’t look good for his brand image). He forfeited his Acapulco prize money (around $30k) and got a $40k fine. Still, since these things easily set a precedent and it was a very ugly situation, everyone and their mother expected a suspension.
What is Zverev’s penalty?
A few days ago the ATP Announced that Zverev receives an eight-week suspension and additional fine of US$25,000. That sounds all fine and good until you read the rest of the press release. This is what it says:
The ATP’s Senior Vice President of Rules & Competition, Miro Bratoev, has completed his review of Alexander Zverev’s conduct in Acapulco, Mexico, where the player was withdrawn from the tournament for Unsportsmanlike Conduct. The review determined that Zverev committed Aggravated Behaviour under the Player Major Offense section of ATP Rules.
As a result, Zverev has been issued an additional fine of US$25,000 and a suspension for a period of eight weeks from any ATP-sanctioned event. However, the fine and suspension are withheld on the condition that, over a probation period ending 22 February 2023 (one year from the incident), the player does not incur a further Code Violation that results in a fine for:
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 Verbal or Physical Abuse of an official, opponent, spectator, or any other person while on-court or on-site. If the conditions are met, the penalties will be formally dismissed following the completion of the probation period. If the conditions are not met, the penalties will be invoked after any appeal process is exhausted.
The word “however” is usually an important one. And in the context of Zverev’s situation it basically means that they thought the fine was enough unless he does it again. Then he will get suspended. For eight weeks.
Is this enough? Don’t you want to set an example about these things? I think this pretty much tells players that if you lose your head badly once, it means nothing, but if you do it twice, that’s another story. Imagine if it worked the same way for crimes.
Not sure what you think about this, but my general feeling about the ATP’s handling of this and similar situations is “lukewarm” and “political”. Meaning that they are afraid to take any stronger actions or words about pretty much anything. It’s evident that the ATP is a highly political organisation that treads carefully and don’t want to stir any pots. It’s a shame, because we don’t want to live in a society without backbone. Does the ATP have one?