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ATP CEO Andrea Gaudenzi takes aim at increasingly reckless on-court player behavior
Men’s tennis has witnessed a rash of shocking outbursts ranging from racquet abuse to umpire intimidation.
Published Apr 05, 2022
WATCH: Should Jenson Brooksby have been defaulted from his Miami Open match?
A recent spate of racquet-smashing and arguing with umpires is prompting the ATP Tour to tighten up on player behavior on court.
According to various publications, the Tour has sent a notice to players saying they plan to act on the issue. (Editor's note: Jon Wertheim tweeted the notice on Tuesday afternoon.)
"The first three months of the season have seen an unusual frequency of high-profile incidents involving unsportsmanlike conduct," said ATP CEO Andrea Gaudenzi in the notice. "This includes serious cases of verbal and racquet abuse.
"We have seen too many dangerous moments, with officials or ball persons caught in the crossfire of aggressive or disrespectful conduct. These incidents shine a bad light on our sport. This conduct affects everyone and sends the wrong message to our fans, especially young fans."
There have been three recent incidents at ATP events that have gained attention. During Acapulco, Alexander Zverev argued about a line call during a doubles match and then, as it concluded, swiped his racquet next to the umpire's feet, hitting the chair. The German received a $40,00 fine and was defaulted from the tournament, then penalized another $25,000 and given an eight-week suspended ban—during which he can compete as long as does not receive any more conduct violations.
At the BNP Paribas Open, Nick Kyrgios launched a racquet in frustration following his defeat to Rafael Nadal; the racquet bounced up to hit the backboard above where a ballkid was standing. He was fined $20,000 for it, and then $35,000 for repeated violations at the Miami Open during his defeat to Jannik Sinner, including verbal abuse of the umpire. The Aussie also received a point and game penalty during the match.
Days earlier in Miami, Jenson Brooksby smashed a racquet towards the ground that bounced toward the back of the court, deflecting off a ball person's legs. It was his second racquet throw during the contest. He was fined $15,000 but not defaulted, likely because the contact was accidental and the ball person was not hurt.
But the penalties appear set to increase, with the incidents receiving significant criticism online and from some former players. There has also been controversy around players criticizing umpires on court, as with Daniil Medvedev and Denis Shapovalov during the Australian Open, which is not run by the ATP Tour.
"'Effective immediately, and as we head into the clay court swing, the ATP officiating team has been directed to take a stricter stance in judging violations of the Code of Conduct," players were told.
Plus, the ATP added it is reviewing its code, enforcement, and penalties for repeated offenses—this suggests tougher sanctions could be on their way.
No further specifics were given.