Novak Djokovic says he ‘understands’ what Alexander Zverev is going through but believes the decision to disqualify the German from the Mexican Open is ‘not too harsh’.
World No 1 Djokovic was famously kicked out of the US Open in 2020 when he struck a line judge after swiping a ball away in frustration.
Zverev has been charged with ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’ after he repeatedly assaulted the official’s chair with his racquet following a 6-2, 4-6, 10-6 defeat in men’s doubles by Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara.
The Olympic champion later expressed his remorse on social media but Djokovic, who is currently playing out in Dubai, feels the call to kick Zverev out remains the correct one.
Alexander Zverev has been kicked out of the Mexican Open after attacking the umpire’s chair
The German was furious after a doubles loss in which he struck the umpire’s chair four times
Novak Djokovic believes the decision to kick Zverev out was ‘correct’ in the circumstances
‘I think he said it all in that statement. He realises that it was a mistake,’ Djokovic said.
‘I understand the frustration. Sometimes on the court you feel in the heat of the battle lots of different emotions.
‘I made mistakes in the past where I’ve had tantrums on the court. I understand what the player is going through.
‘But, of course, I do not justify his actions. He has, with the words that he had in the statement, handled it in a right way.
‘I think the disqualification decision was not too harsh. I think it was correct under the circumstances.’
Zverev’s anger was sparked over a line call in the deciding set tiebreak in the doubles match.
The German was furious, crouched down and said, ‘look where the ball bounced, 8-6 in the tiebreak, for f***’s sake. It’s f***ing your line.
‘You’re a f***ing idiot.’
When the game ended, the Olympic champion hit the chair three times as the crowd gasped in disbelief, before going on to shout, ‘you f***ing destroyed the whole f***ing match! The whole f***ing match’.
Zverev, incensed by the officiating at this point, again struck the side of the umpire’s chair with his racquet before the official, who appeared deeply uncomfortable due to the outburst, hastily left the court.
Djokovic knows ‘what Zverev is going through’ after he was disqualified at 2020 US Open when he struck a line judge in the throat when he aimlessly hit the ball away in frustration
Zverev was furious at a line call in the deciding set tie-break that wasn’t given, leading to him calling the chair umpire a ‘f***ing idiot’, much to the dismay of the crowd in Acapulco
Asked what the suitable punishment would be for Zverev, amid calls across social media for a lengthy ban, Djokovic was bemused by the question.
‘I’m never going to encourage ATP disqualifying or fining a player because I’m not in a position to do that. Why would I do that?,’ the 20-time major winner fired back.
Earlier in the day Andy Murray, who was beaten in the second round in Dubai by 20-year-old Jannik Sinner, slammed Zverev’s ‘dangerous’ and ‘reckless’ behaviour.
‘It was not good. It was dangerous, reckless,’ the Brit said.
‘I understand athletes across lots of sports, can get very frustrated. Certainly me, I’ve not always acted in the way I’d want on the court. I’m certainly not claiming to be an angel. I’m not perfect myself.
‘However, when you’re ripping your tennis racquet right next to the umpire multiple times, you can’t be doing that.
‘I know obviously one of the British guys who was playing, as well, a bit dangerous. It’s graphite flying off the racquet, as well. Yeah, was not good.’
In a statement posted later on his Instagram page, Zverev revealed he has privately apologised to the umpire for his outburst.
A fan in Acapulco holds up the smashed up racquet of Zverev, which he hit the chair with
In a statement put on his Instagram story, Zverev apologised for his ‘unacceptable’ outburst
Andy Murray (left) slammed Zverev’s (right) actions which saw him thrown out of the event
He wrote: It is difficult to put into words how much I regret my behaviour during and after the doubles match yesterday.
‘I have privately apologised to the chair umpire because my outburst towards him was wrong and unacceptable, and I am only disappointed in myself.
‘It just should not have happened and there is no excuse. I would also like to apologise to my fans, the tournament, and the sport that I love.
‘As you know, I leave everything on the court. Yesterday, I left too much. I am going to take the coming days to reflect – on my actions and how I can ensure that it will not happen again. I am sorry for letting you down.
Zverev remains under investigation by the ATP following allegations of domestic abuse from ex-girlfriend Olga Sharypova, which include allegations of violent physical abuse. Zverev has repeatedly denied all allegations.