If he wins his semifinals match at New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday, Novak Djokovic shall be one step nearer to profitable a Grand Slam at this year’s U.S. Open. But the stakes are even increased for Djokovic’s competitor, Alexander “Sacha” Zverev: if he wins on Friday, it is going to bolster the 24-year-old tennis star’s rising popularity as heir-apparent to the singular stardom loved by legends like Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal.
Zverev’s ascendency — he received a gold medal within the Tokyo Olympics final month — has additionally renewed scrutiny of home violence accusations leveled by his ex-girlfriend. It additionally raises new questions on whether or not the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) bungled its dealing with of these allegations, two of which had been mentioned to have taken place at ATP match websites. Now, a minimum of considered one of Zverev’s colleagues on the tour is slamming the tennis group’s mishandling of the occasions, and elevating questions on whether or not its failure to take them significantly is doing injury to the game at giant.
“I’m embarrassed and disappointed in the ATP and the other governing bodies’ response to this situation,” Canadian star Milos Raonic, a former Top 3 participant on the planet, tells Rolling Stone.
Zverev’s ex-girlfriend Olga Sharypova, who competed in International Tennis Federation junior circuit matches as a teen, first accused him of abuse in an October 2020 interview with Russian web site Championat. She went on to element her allegations towards Zverev to reporter Ben Rothenberg in a pair of tales revealed by Racquet and Slate.
Over the course of her 13-month relationship with Zverev, Sharypova mentioned she suffered each emotional abuse and a number of situations of bodily violence. She claimed that Zverev slammed her head right into a wall, and — whereas in New York for the U.S. Open in 2019 — suffocated her with a pillow. During different incidents, Sharypova says Zverev punched her within the face, choked her, and shoved her, leaving her with bruises on her face and arm. The abuse escalated a lot, Sharypova mentioned, that she finally was pushed to self-harm, injecting herself with insulin — an act that she knew may fatally decrease her blood sugar. (“I just wanted to leave in some way,” Sharypova mentioned on the time, “because I can’t stand it anymore.”)
In a press release posted to Twitter final month, the tennis star “categorically and unequivocally” denied abusing Sharypova, including that he “fully support[s] the creation of an ATP domestic violence policy.” (Reps for each the disaster PR agency representing Zverev and the ATP didn’t reply to requests for remark.)
Sharypova has not pursued prison fees towards Zverev and has no plans to file a civil go well with. When questioned concerning the allegations towards Zverev prior to now, the ATP has mentioned it is going to anticipate authorized investigations to run their course. Once “due process is applied, we then review the outcome and decide the appropriate course of action,” ATP mentioned in a statement to Slate.
But amongst gamers on the circuit, uncomfortable questions have circulated about ATP’s accountability to research severe accusations leveled towards considered one of its most gifted younger gamers. “Should the ATP have done something, and been involved, to protect the sport? Yes,” Raonic tells Rolling Stone. ”I felt like they had been a bit bit hush-hush about the entire thing, and simply ready for it to go.”
But even within the absence of a civil or prison case, there seems to be extra that the ATP may do. The tour’s rulebook states that “players shall not at any time physically abuse any official, opponent, spectator or other person within the precincts of the tournament site”; two of the alleged abuse incidents Sharypova has spoken about publicly are mentioned to have taken place at inns that had been a part of an official match website.
There is precedent for the ATP to research such incidents — and doubtlessly punish Zverev if the claims had been substantiated. In 2013, the ATP suspended John Tomic, the daddy and coach of Australian tennis participant Bernard Tomic, after he headbutted his son’s associate in entrance of a match resort.
“It’s in our rulebook,” Roanic says. “There have been other events that have happened at tournament hotels where the ATP has responded by looking into it, and at those times they felt it was necessary to respond with some level of punishment.”
For his half, Roanic says, on the very least, there must be extra of a public recognition of the accusations towards Zverev within the media protection of the U.S. Open. “At least it should be acknowledged,” he mentioned of Zverev, who’s at present ranked fourth on the planet. “I don’t know if it has been.”