Alexander Zverev has been handed a suspended eight-week ban and placed on probation for his wild outburst against a chair umpire during the Mexican Open last month.
The German world No.3 hit the chair umpire's stand with his racquet four times, breaking it, after losing a doubles match in Acapulco alongside partner Marcelo Melo.
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Minutes earlier, Zverev had earned a code violation for angrily disputing a line judge's call, which had set up match point for opponents Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara.
Upon losing that match point, Zverev exchanged a frosty handshake with his opponents before proceeding to smash his racquet against official Alessandro Germani's chair.
He was later kicked out of the tournament entirely, forfeiting more than $30,000 in prizemoney, as well paying $40,000 in fines for 'unsportsmanlike conduct'.
The ATP said at the time Zverev was docked $20,000 each for verbal abuse and unsportsmanlike conduct, the maximum on-site penalty for each violation.
Zverev's eight-week ban will be triggered if the 24-year-old is given a code violation that results in a fine for unsportsmanlike conduct or for “verbal or physical abuse of an official, opponent, spectator or any other person while on-court or on-site."
As well as the ban, Zverev will also be fined an additional $25,000 if he breaks probation, which will elapse on February 22, 2023.
Zverev has until Friday to appeal the ruling of Miro Bratoev, the ATP senior vice president of rules and competition.
Bratoev conducted a review of what happened last month in Acapulco, Mexico, and determined that Zverev committed what is termed aggravated behaviour under the major offence section of the ATP rulebook.
The ATP characterized the decision as issuing Zverev a fine and suspension that are being “withheld,” unless his behavior warrants the punishments.
Tennis world responds to 'soft as butter' Zverev punishment
Tennis fans on social media largely considered the ban to be ill-fitting of the nature of the transgression, with many calling for umpires to get more protection.
Many simply couldn't believe that a direct attack on the chair umpire was not taken more seriously by the ATP.
Comparisons were drawn to Nick Kyrgios' 16-week suspended ban in 2019 after clashing with an umpire at the Cincinnati Masters, as well as suggesting US Open officials were 'corrupt'.
Many felt the ATP needed to send a much stronger message that such behaviour would not be tolerated.
Reuters tennis correspondant Sudipto Ganguly said the German star was incredibly fortunate not to be on an enforced holiday after his shocking outburst.
"Zverev should consider himself lucky to receive suspended punishments," he wrote on Twitter.
Many others on social media were of a similar mind, surprised the outburst didn't result in an immediate suspension.
Alexander Zverev given a suspended(!) eight-week ban for THAT outburst in Acapulco. Completely embarrassing reaction from the ATP to one of the worst incidents seen on the tennis court in years
— Oliver Caffrey (@ollycaffrey) March 8, 2022
Ladies and gentleman, we have a winner for the weakest sporting body in world sport. Disgraceful. https://t.co/bVMOw9xj0x
— Scott Bailey (@ScottBaileyAAP) March 8, 2022
Soft as butter. If it was the world no.457 they’d be banned. https://t.co/HGes4nnkND
— Jon Tuxworth (@Tuxy81) March 8, 2022
— Russell Bennett (@rgbennett) March 8, 2022
Alexander Zverev shouldn’t have been playing to begin with, had the ATP conducted a proper investigation into the allegations of domestic violence.
Now, he gets an additional $25,000 fine and an eight week suspension for threatening violence against an umpire.
— Lukas Weese (@Weesesports) March 8, 2022
Alexander Zverev was fined a total of $65,000 for what he did in Acapulco.
In 2021, the payout for losing in the first round of the US Open was $75,000.
Not a dent.
— Gill Gross 🇺🇦 (@Gill_Gross) March 8, 2022
— Carol (@CarolUpperWest) March 7, 2022
Zverev — who later apologised for his behaviour — returned to action late last week and won two singles matches to help Germany beat Brazil in Davis Cup action this weekend.
In October, the ATP opened an investigation into domestic violation accusations from a former girlfriend of Zverev.
Australian Nick Kyrgios was the recipient of the biggest penalty in men's tennis to date for verbally abusing a chair umpire and smashing two racquets during a match in 2019.
After an initial fine of $113,000 ($A154,000), he was given a suspended ban of 16 weeks and an additional fine of $25,000 ($A34,000) following an ATP investigation.
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