Dhe world number one Novak Djokovic thinks the disqualification of tennis Olympic champion Alexander Zverev after his freak out in Acapulco is correct. “I think the disqualification decision wasn’t too harsh. I think it was right under the circumstances,” said the 34-year-old Serb on Wednesday on the sidelines of his tournament appearance in Dubai. He hopes that Zverev can think about it and that something like this will never happen to him again.
At the tournament in Acapulco, Mexico, Zverev hit the referee’s chair several times after losing in doubles and was then excluded from the rest of the tournament by the men’s organization ATP. The 24-year-old from Hamburg then apologized for his behavior and announced that he would learn from the incident.
“He realizes it was a mistake. I understand the frustration. Sometimes you feel a lot of different emotions on the pitch in the heat of the battle,” said Djokovic: “But of course I don’t justify his behavior.” Zverev’s statement was correct. “He said he made a mistake and his behavior was inappropriate.”
The 20-time Grand Slam tournament winner was himself disqualified from the US Open 2020 because he unintentionally shot a line judge with the tennis ball in frustration. Djokovic himself reached the quarterfinals in Dubai. In the second round, the Serb defeated Karen Khachanov from Russia 6:3, 7:6 (7:2). Djokovic converted his first match point after 99 minutes. In the round of the top eight, the 34-year-old now meets the Czech Jiri Vesely.
Will Medvedev replace Djokovic?
Djokovic made his late season debut against Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti (6: 3, 6: 3) on Monday after being expelled from Australia for lack of a corona vaccination. It was his first official match since early December. The 20-time Grand Slam winner is allowed to serve in Dubai because the authorities there do not require a vaccination certificate for entry.
Djokovic is entering his 361st week as number one in the tennis world, but he could lose the top position to Daniil Medvedev in the coming days. The Russian US Open winner will take the top spot in the rankings for the first time next Monday if he wins the parallel tournament in Acapulco, Mexico.
Meanwhile, Australian Open winner Rafael Nadal hopes that Zverev’s freak out can serve as a warning negative example. “I think he deserves the penalty because you’re not allowed to act like that on the pitch,” said Nadal: “I hope it is a learning curve for him and for other young players who lose their nerve.”
Record Grand Slam winner Nadal meanwhile advanced to the quarter-finals with a clear 6: 0, 6: 3 against Stefan Kozlov from the USA. The 35-year-old has now won all of his twelve games this year and, according to the men’s organization ATP, has started a season like never before. Nadal is now on 12 wins without defeat in 2022.
Eight years ago, after eleven wins, Nadal lost to Swiss Stan Wawrinka, now the Spaniard easily reached the quarter-finals and will face Tommy Paul (USA) there. “Today it was a smooth win, that’s good news,” said Nadal: “And I’ll try to be ready again tomorrow against a tough opponent.”
In the semifinals, the 35-year-old could then meet Medvedev in a repeat of the Melbourne final. Medvedev easily solved his task against Nadal’s compatriot Pablo Andujar 6: 1, 6: 2 and still has the best chance of taking over number one in the world rankings in a long-distance duel with Djokovic. The last German professional in the Acapulco competition is Peter Gojowczyk from Munich, who after Zverev’s disqualification reached the quarter-finals without a fight and challenged the British Cameron Norrie there.