ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) — Third-ranked Alexander Zverev was thrown out of the Mexican Open for violently smashing his racket on the umpire’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 struck the umpire’s chair three times, sat for a moment, then got back up and yelled at umpire Alessandro Germani that he “destroyed the whole (expletive) match” and struck the chair once more with his racket as the umpire climbed down. Germani had pulled his feet back at one point for fear of being hit.
Minutes earlier, Zverev had received a code violation after yelling and swearing in protest of a shot that was ruled in, setting up match point. Glasspool then ended the match with an ace.
“Due to unsportsmanlike conduct at the conclusion of his doubles match on Tuesday night, Alexander Zverev has been withdrawn from the tournament in Acapulco,” the ATP said on Twitter early Wednesday.
The 24-year-old German was the defending champion in the singles. The ATP website shows that his second-round opponent, Peter Gojowczyk, has been given a walkover.
As the crowd booed, Zverev handed his damaged racket to a child in the front row.
Zverev apologized in a statement posted on his Instagram account on Wednesday.
“It is difficult to put into words how much I regret my behavior during and after the doubles match yesterday,” he wrote. “I have privately apologized to the chair umpire because my outburst towards him was wrong and unacceptable, and I am only disappointed in myself. It just should not have happened and there is no excuse.”
With a possible suspension looming, Zverev also apologized to fans, the tournament, and “the sport that I love.”
“As you know, I leave everything on the court,” he continued. “Yesterday, I left too much. I am going to take the coming days to reflect — on my actions and how I can ensure that it will not happen again. I am sorry for letting you down.”
Zverev was playing in Mexico for the fifth time in his career, having won the title in 2021 by 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 conducts are unacceptable. The rule book is clear about it and it has to be enforced.”
Earlier, Daniil Medvedev continued his pursuit of the No. 1 ranking with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Benoit Paire to move into 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 U.S. Open and was a 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 some rest and some time off competition,” said Medvedev, who rallied from a break down 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 next plays Pablo Andujar, who beat Alex Hernandez 6-0, 6-1.
If Medvedev wins this tournament, or if he reaches the Acapulco final and Djokovic does not win the title at 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’s thinking about the milestone, but acknowledged that it might not happen next week.
“I know that in the next three tournaments it can be a possibility and that’s why I’m going to try to do this, 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 it.”
The likely biggest challenge for Medvedev in Mexico could be fourth-seeded Nadal, who opened with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Denis Kudla.
Nadal, who has won titles in Acapulco in 2005, ‘13 and ’20, next faces Stefan Kozlov on Wednesday.
Medvedev could meet Nadal for the first time since the Australian Open final in the Acapulco semifinals. Nadal rallied to win the final at Melbourne Park in five sets to capture 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 very next Grand Slam event.
Nadal initially said after winning the Australian title that he was considering skipping Acapulco to rest his body in order to play at Indian Wells but later decided to travel to Mexico once again.
“In the last few years I have played less tournaments … and now I do it where I feel like, and at this stage in my career, this is a place (that) leaves me feeling good,” Nadal said.
Unlike Medvedev, the 35-year-old Nadal said the top ranking is no longer something he craves.
“That time has passed for me. I think that all my physical problems took that chance away from me and I´m no longer chasing that goal. It would be a mistake for me to chase it,” he said. “If I can do it while playing only on the tournaments that I can, I would be very happy.”
He said that’s unlikely, given the number and quality of the younger players who can participate in more tournaments than he can.
In other matches Tuesday, Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Laslo Djere 7-6 (7) 7-6 (4), Tommy Paul advanced to a meeting with Dusan Lajovic when fifth-seeded Matteo Berrettini retired from their match in the second set because of an abdominal injury, and Yoshihito Nishioka beat Feliciano Lopez 2-6, 6-0, 6-4.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Carlos Rodriguez, The Associated Press