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Temper Tantrum

Alexander Zverev swings racket at chair ump repeatedly, continues to torpedo own career

February 23, 2022

We regret to inform you that we have a new entry in the "insane temperamental lunatics of men's tennis" file, and man, it is a doozy. Alexander Zverev, the 24-year-old German who you may remember charitably as a gold medalist and two-time ATP Finals winner, or less charitably as the guy being investigated for some really awful domestic abuse allegations, was playing a doubles match at the Mexican Open late Tuesday night when he completely lost his cool. The incident happened just after he and Marcelo Melo lost, and you can watch his temper tantrum here:

You can't see it in that video, but while he was on his tirade, Zverev shouted expletives at the chair ump, including "you ****ing destroyed the whole ****ing match!"

This is crazy behavior. We've watched a lot of tennis around here, and watching a lot of tennis means watching a lot of angry, entitled rants, but we can't remember ever seeing anything this purposefully intimidating and violent. You can see the ump's leg flinching, and if anything, it's remarkable that the ump kept his composure as well as he did.

Zverev was tossed from the singles tournament, and will obviously face further punishments including a fine and suspension. The severity is to be determined—his only defense, if there is one, is that he didn't actually strike the chair ump the four times he swung the racket at him, and his intent seemed to be to hit the chair structure rather than the ump himself. It's highly doubtful that will earn him much credit or leniency in the days to come.

If you're into meaningless BS apologies crafted by an agent, you can get your fix here. An excerpt:

"It is difficult to put into words how much I regret my behavior during and after the doubles match yesterday. 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. I would also like to apologize to my fans, the tournament, and the sport that I love. As you know, I leave everything on the court. Yesterday, I left too much."

To put it mildly! We'll see how the ATP reacts, but I wouldn't be shocked to see a ban of a month or longer. And it almost goes without saying that for someone like Zverev, who is being investigated for violent acts against a domestic partner, this isn't exactly a glowing testament to his self-control. It takes a lot in tennis these days to come across like more of a douche than Novak Djokovic, but Zverev pulled it off.