Alexander Zverev ‘should be banned from major events and go through a rehabilitation process’, says Mats Wilander

Eurosport expert Mats Wilander has given his opinion on Alexander Zverev being allowed to continue playing tennis so soon after hitting a referee’s chair in a shocking and violent manner in Mexico.

The world No. 3 has been given the maximum fine by the ATP following his backlash at the Mexican Open when he repeatedly hit Alessandro Germani’s chair with his racquet after his doubles loss alongside Marcelo Melo against Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara.
Zverev was expelled from the tournament and fined $40,000 (£30,000), as well as the complete loss of his prize money and ATP ranking points. He yelled while barely avoiding hitting the referee: “You f****** destroyed the whole f****** game. The whole f****** game.”

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The 24-year-old apologized for his outburst and turned around to represent Germany against Brazil in the Davis Cup in Rio de Janeiro on March 4-5, something he hadn’t done since February 2019.

Wilander believes the punishment was nowhere near strong enough and Zverev shouldn’t be allowed back into action so soon after such a shocking incident.

“If a player breaks his racket on the umpire’s chair and is literally inches away from hitting the umpire’s leg, he shouldn’t be allowed onto a tennis court until he’s suffered a kind of rehabilitation, a kind of time,” Wilander told Eurosport.

“We have to punish him accordingly, and allow him to go out and play professional tennis after a week or two, it’s too soon.

Alexander Zverev – ATP Acapulco

Image credit: Eurosport

“For me, money doesn’t do it, and I think you give someone with that behavior a three-month ban or a six-month ban. You’re not allowing them to play the most important tournaments in its schedule. Now the most important tournaments are most likely the Grand Slams, the ATP 1000, the Davis Cup.

“I mean, I don’t know where you draw the line, but definitely to come out and compete in any form right away, that doesn’t seem very fair to other players.

“Maybe it’s time to have some kind of professional tennis body that makes all these decisions, and that’s the combination of the ATP, the ITF, the WTA, the Olympic committee. We get together, and those kinds of behaviors, no, you’re not allowed to play on any circuit until you’ve gone through some sort of rehabilitation process.

“So no, it’s not great for tennis. For him personally, it’s probably a good thing that he can suddenly start playing, not just for himself, but to play for his country and his teammates. But no, I think it’s…it doesn’t send a big message for professional tennis.

“I applaud him for being an emotional wreck at the end of the loss in a doubles match – it just shows he cares, but you have to show you care in different ways.

“I think I go back to what happened against Denis Shapovalov at the Australian Open. After 45 minutes he was destroying a tennis racket on the court.

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“I don’t like destroying tennis racquets, even though it has become more and more acceptable in the professional tennis world.

“I absolutely hate this behavior because there are more tennis players in the world who can’t afford a second racquet. So don’t show the kids that this is how we treat the equipment we use.”

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