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Zverev free to play after suspended ban for smashing umpire’s chair | Tennis

Alexander Zverev will play in California this week having avoided an immediate ban from the ATP for attacking an umpire’s chair at the Mexican Open in Acapulco. On Tuesday, the ATP announced that Zverev had received a suspended ban of eight weeks at ATP tournaments and a suspended $25,000 (£19,000) fine.

Last month, at the end of his doubles loss to Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara alongside Marcelo Melo, Zverev exploded in anger and called the umpire, Alessandro Germani, a “fucking idiot”. After the match, Zverev violently struck Germani’s chair three times, nearly catching the umpire’s foot, and then he returned to strike the umpire’s chair once more. Zverev was quickly pulled from the singles draw by the ATP, fined a total of $40,000 (£30,000), and his prize money and points were rescinded.

On Tuesday, the ATP announced the conclusion of their review with a statement: “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 25,000 US dollars and a suspension for a period of eight weeks from any ATP-sanctioned event.”

However, both are suspended punishments and Zverev will instead be on probation for a year until 22 February 2023. Only if he commits another code violation over the next year will they be activated.

According to the ATP rulebook, possible punishments for Zverev included an immediate suspension of between 21 days and one year. The decision taken by Miro Bratoev, the ATP’s senior vice-president of rules and competition, has widely been considered as lenient.

“Name another sport that would not protect its officials who have been physically attacked and intimidated by a competitor, by serving a probation vs a suspension? What am I missing?” wrote Pam Shriver on Twitter.

Many sporting leagues impose fines or bans on athletes and coaches for merely criticising officials. At a time when it is not uncommon for players to misbehave when interacting with umpires, the sport has offered few deterrents for players who cross the line.

The incident has additionally drawn attention to the status of the ATP’s internal investigation into Zverev after his ex-girlfriend, Olya Sharypova, publicly accused him of domestic violence at the end of 2020. Zverev has denied Sharypova’s accusations and welcomed the investigation. An ATP spokesperson told the Guardian last month: “The investigation is ongoing. We have contracted a third party with expertise in this area to assist in our investigative process.”

On the weekend, Zverev guided Germany to victory against Brazil in the Davis Cup Qualifiers. In his first match, Zverev faced Thiago Wild, who was investigated by Brazilian police for crimes of psychological violence, injury and bodily harm against his ex-girlfriend, Thayane Lima, last year. Zverev will next compete in Indian Wells this week.

On Tuesday, the ATP, WTA, ITF and the four Grand Slams announced that they have donated $700,000 (£533,000) towards humanitarian relief through Global Giving’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund for Ukraine. The governing bodies have also announced a ‘Tennis Plays for Peace’ initiative and they will provide WTA and ATP players with ribbons the colours of Ukraine’s flag to wear during matches at Indian Wells this week.

The men’s Indian Wells draw takes place on Tuesday night but Novak Djokovic has still not yet withdrawn from the tournament despite the qualifying draw being made on Monday. Two weeks ago in Dubai, Djokovic conceded that “as of today” he would not be able to enter the United States to compete in Indian Wells or Miami. The tournament has already erected a mural for absent top players, which includes Djokovic alongside other stars such as Serena Williams and Roger Federer.

In the women’s draw, Emma Raducanu was drawn to face either Dayana Yastremska or Caroline Garcia in the second round after receiving a first round ‘bye’. Raducanu retired from her first round match in Guadalajara on 23 February with a left leg injury and while she is said to be making progress with her recovery, she is currently taking the injury day by day.

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