Alexander Zverev has described his Mexican Open meltdown as “the worst moment of my life”.
The Olympic gold medallist was thrown out of the tournament last month and fined 40,000 US dollars (approximately £30,000) after aggressively and repeatedly striking the umpire’s chair just below the official’s feet having lost his cool over a line call during a doubles match.
An ATP review found Zverev guilty of a major offence and he will serve an eight-week ban if he behaves in a similar way at any tournament over the next year.
“It still is embarrassing for me now,” said the world number three in comments reported by the BBC.
“Walking around the locker room, it’s not a nice feeling. But we all do mistakes. I’m also a human being, and I can guarantee you I will never act this way again in my life. It was definitely the worst moment of my life.”
Zverev was speaking ahead of his opening match at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, which got under way on Wednesday.
Novak Djokovic belatedly pulled out after accepting US immigration rules regarding Covid-19 vaccination would not change in time to allow him to enter the country.
Fittingly, Portugal’s Joao Sousa, who would have got into the draw had Djokovic withdrawn sooner, was the lucky loser from qualifying who replaced him.
Tennis’ governing bodies announced a package of support measures for Ukraine this week but the sport has not banned Russian and Belarusian players provided they compete under a neutral flag.
Both main draws are headed by players in this position, with Russian Daniil Medvedev competing as world number one for the first time while Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus is the highest seed in the women’s event following the withdrawals of Ashleigh Barty and Barbora Krejcikova.
Medvedev said of playing under a neutral flag: “I want to promote my sport, I want to promote what I’m doing in my country for sure, and right now the situation is that that is the only way I can play.”
Sabalenka expressed her dismay at the situation in Ukraine, saying: “I feel really sad and really bad about Ukrainian citizens who lost their homes in the war. I just hope for peace.”
British players remain unbeaten so far, with qualifier Harriet Dart moving through to a second-round meeting against Ukrainian Elina Svitolina after Croatia’s Ana Konjuh retired trailing 6-1 3-1.
Liam Broady became the fourth British qualifier, beating Australian Christopher O’Connell 7-6 (7) 6-0.
Heather Watson and Katie Boulter are both in action later on Friday while Emma Raducanu will take on France’s Caroline Garcia on Saturday provided she has sufficiently recovered from a leg injury.
In his first match, wild card Andy Murray will meet Japan’s Taro Daniel for the third time this year having lost at the Australian Open then claimed some revenge in Doha last month.