Alexander Zverev’s return to the tennis court is coming “too soon” after the world number three was thrown out of the Mexican Open for unsportsmanlike conduct, according to seven-time grand slam champion Mats Wilander.
Zverev is set to return to action in the Davis Cup qualifiers this weekend as part of the Germany team that faces Brazil in Rio. The 24-year-old has not competed in the Davis Cup since 2019 but has made a U-turn on his availability for selection.
It comes after Zverev was thrown out of the Mexican Open last week for an on-court outburst in which he attacked the umpire’s chair at the end of a heated doubles match. Zverev was fined the maximum amount by the ATP, who said in a statement they would conduct a review of the incident.
Speaking to Eurosport, Wilander said Zverev has yet to receive an appropriate punishment and should at least go through “rehab” before returning to the court.
“If a player breaks his racquet on the umpire’s chair and he is literally a few centimetres away from hitting the umpire’s leg, he should not be allowed to get on a tennis court until he has gone through some kind of rehab, some kind of time,” Wilander said.
“We need to punish him accordingly, and allowing him to come out and play professional tennis the week after or two weeks after, that is too soon.
“To me, money does not do it, and I think you either give someone with that behaviour a three-month suspension or a six-month suspension. You do not allow him to play the most important tournaments on his calendar.”
Zverev could be heard shouting, “You f*****g destroyed the whole f*****g match. The whole f*****g match” during his outburst, as he struck the umpire’s chair with his racket.
He was thrown out of the tournament and a statement from the ATP read: “Following ATP’s withdrawal of Alexander Zverev from this week’s tournament in Acapulco due to unsportsmanlike conduct, the player has received the following on-site penalties; verbal abuse – 20,000 US dollars, unsportsmanlike conduct – 20,000 US dollars.
“This represents the maximum fine per each violation. Zverev also forfeits full prize money of 31,570 US dollars (singles and doubles), as well as all ATP rankings points from the event. A further review of the incident will now follow per ATP rules.”
Zverev is set to compete in the Davis Cup from Friday 4 March to Saturday 5 March before heading to the United States for ATP Masters 1000 events at Indian Wells and Miami later this month, and Wilander added the 24-year-old returning to court this soon is not a “great look” for tennis.
Wilander said: “For him personally, it is most probably a good move that he can suddenly start playing, not just for himself, but to play for his country and his teammates. But it does not send a great message for professional tennis.”