Alexander Zverev ‘should not be on court today’ – Justine Henin hits out at ‘unacceptable’ ATP incidents

Alexander Zverev should have been banned for his shocking outburst at the Mexican Open in March, claims Eurosport tennis expert Justine Henin as the seven-time Grand Slam champion hit out at “unacceptable” behavior on the ATP Tour.

Zverev was booted out of the tournament after whacking the umpire’s chair with his racquet in the aftermath of a doubles defeat in Acapulco – narrowly missing the official’s feet – and branding him a “f ****** idiot”.
The German was handed a suspended eight-week ban and a suspended $ 25,000 (£ 19,000) fine, in addition to his earlier fine of $ 40,000 and forfeit of prize money and ranking points.

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He is not alone in his on-court histrionics. Nick Kyrgios almost hit a ball boy after hurling his racquet into the ground at Indian Wells – and has faced a series of fines in recent weeks – while Jenson Brooksby was fortunate to avoid a default after striking a ball boy when he tossed his racquet at the Miami Open.
Prior to the latest incidents in Miami, the ATP issued a memo to players saying harsher punishments would be dished out for on-court misconduct and Henin says it is time to stamp it out of the game.

“We have to take action,” the Belgian said on Eurosport Tennis Club.

“We hope concrete action will be taken so that these extremes stop. You can’t yell at an umpire. Even if there is no intention, it is a problem to break a racquet that flies as far as a ball boy.

“You can be tired … but we can’t see the images of Alexander Zverev again. These are behaviors of intimidation, of rage, which we cannot see and which we must punish much more severely.

“He should not be on the court today, Alexander Zverev.”

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While mainly focusing on Zverev, Kyrgios and Brooksby, Henin also reproached Daniil Medvedev for his antiques at the Australian Open.

Medvedev won few supporters during his run to the final in Melbourne, urging the crowd “to show respect” after his win over home favorite Kyrgios in the second round and regularly turning on the chair umpires.

“The misbehavior is becoming unacceptable,” Henin continued.

“I think we can rejoice in Kyrgios’ tennis, in the moments when he plays wonderfully well – I admire that too – but there are extremes that we cannot accept.

“Zverev … even Medvedev at the Australian Open. Because where are we going to set the limit?

“Brooksby didn’t even go to apologize to the ball boy. Kyrgios smashed his racquet and almost hit a ball boy – under the excuse that it did not hit the ball boy, they did not sanction him!

“I think it’s time to stop racquet smashes because these are images that we don’t want to see on television.

“Top athletes must remain as role models, even if they are human.”

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Henin’s opinion is not universal, however. Kazakhstan’s world No. 36 Alexander Bublik says the ATP are trying to put players in “cages” by introducing stricter conduct punishments and believes there should still be room to express emotions.

Meanwhile, Kyrgios has a legion of supporters and played a starring role in a thrilling fortnight at the Australian Open, winning the men’s doubles title alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis and pushing eventual finalist Medvedev to four sets in the singles.

However, Henin is concerned that players are becoming attractions for their outbursts, rather than their actual tennis.

“What bothers me is when we return to the question:‘ Do we have sanitized tennis? ’” She continued.

“I’d rather players are highlighted for their style of play … but if to make tennis attractive, you have to become vulgar and violent – because we are seeing more reactions like this – you reach my limit. I’m not interested in that. “

Henin also took aim at players quitting matches early after two high-profile incidents.

Bublik quit during the final set of his Monte Carlo Masters clash with Pablo Carreno Busta – despite not being visibly injured – and WTA star Victoria Azarenka stormed off court after 45 minutes while a set and a break down to 16-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova at the Miami Open.

“There are images that are unacceptable: players who quit matches for no apparent reason, at least for no reason we know, like Bublik,” said Henin.

“We saw it also with Azarenka recently. There are still people who pay for their tickets, televisions that pay fees, sponsors who put a lot of money to be able to pay these players. I find that unacceptable. ”

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12/04/2022 AT 16:42

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