Tsitsipas labels umpire a weirdo in early exit

NEW YORK • Stefanos Tsitsipas accused a US Open chair umpire of having a bias against him during a tirade in which he told the French official: "You're all weirdos!"

The argument came midway through the fourth set of his 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (9-7), 7-5 loss to Russian Andrey Rublev in the first round on Tuesday. Tsitsipas, the No. 8 seed, appeared to be battling cramps and was slow to return to the court after losing his serve.

Damien Dumusois told Tsitsipas it was time to play, but the Greek was still reaching into his bag for a new headband and screamed at the umpire that he needed time to change. Dumusois then told Tsitsipas he would be penalised.

"I don't care," Tsitsipas replied. "Do whatever you want, because you're the worst. I don't know what you have against me. Because you're French probably and you're all weirdos! You're all weirdos!"

He was angered as he felt Dumusois believed he was getting illegal coaching during the match from his father and coach Apostolos.

"I don't know what this chair umpire has in specific against my team, but he's been complaining and telling me that my team talks all of the time when I'm out on the court playing," Tsitsipas, 21, said.

"I believe he's not right, because I never hear anything of what my team says from the outside."

Fourth seed Dominic Thiem of Austria, also suffered a shock 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 loss to Italian Thomas Fabbiano, who ousted Tsitsipas in the first round at Wimbledon.

The two-time French Open runner-up said he was exhausted from battling illness. "I'm far away from 100 per cent," Thiem said. "Like this, it's very tough to win."

Russian ninth seed Karen Khachanov was another early casualty after he lost 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 to Canada's Vasek Pospisil.

While still in the men's draw, Australia's Nick Kyrgios could find himself in hot water again after accusing men's tennis governing body ATP of being "corrupt" following his first round victory on Tuesday.

Kyrgios, 24, made the comment at a news conference when asked if he could have avoided a US$113,000 (S$156,900) fine after his second-round defeat by Khachanov at the Cincinnati Masters earlier this month.

He was fined for unsportsmanlike conduct, verbal abuse and audible obscenity after arguing with the chair umpire and smashing two rackets during a meltdown.

Having dispatched American Steve Johnson 6-3, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 on Tuesday night, Kyrgios said the fine had not affected his preparations for the year's final Grand Slam. "Not at all. The ATP is pretty corrupt anyway, so I'm not fussed about it at all," he said.

In a separate incident, the ATP said that Damian Steiner, the chair umpire who officiated the men's singles final at last month's Wimbledon, has been fired for giving interviews to news media in his native Argentina without authorisation.

Steiner recommended rule changes in a podcast that included restricting the use of towels during play, abolishing the service let and allowing in-match coaching.

"Much of the content of Steiner's media interviews were a direct violation of the standard protocol in place whereby officials must refrain from discussing specific incidents or matches, individual players, other officials, or rules," the Tour said in a statement.

ASSOCIATED PRESS, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2019, with the headline 'Tsitsipas labels umpire a weirdo in early exit'. Print Edition | Subscribe