MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Mischa Zverev was fined $36,000 at the Australian Open on Tuesday for a poor performance in his first-round match against Hyeon Chung, the largest penalty ever assessed to an individual during a Grand Slam tournament for an on-site transgression.
Zverev was punished under a new rule implemented by the Grand Slam Board in the off-season intended to deter players with pre-existing injuries to start a tournament and retired from their first-round matches.
Under the rule, called "First Round Performance," players can be levied a fine up to their first-round prize money if they do not "perform to a professional standard" in their match. Not completing the match is among the factors that can be taken into account by the tournament referee.
If injured players withdraw before the tournament begins, however, they are still eligible to receive half of their first-round prize money. The players replacing them in the field — "lucky losers" who failed to advance out of the qualifying rounds — will get the other half, plus whatever they might accumulate by winning matches.
No. 32-seeded Zverev was trailing Chung 2-6, 1-4 in his first-round match on the first day of the Australian Open when he walked to the umpire chair, shook hands with his opponent and retired from the match. His fine of 45,000 Australian dollars ($36,000) is 75 percent of his first-round prize money of AU$60,000 ($48,000). Chung has progressed to the quarterfinals after a run that also included wins over No. 4 Alexander Zverev — Mischa's younger brother — and six-time champion Novak Djokovic.
Mischa Zverev was the only player to retire from a first-round match at the Australian Open. Several other players opted to withdraw before the tournament began, pocketing half their prize money under the new rule. One of the lucky losers who benefited from a late withdrawal, Bernarda Pera of the U.S., went on to reach the third round.
Zverev's fine was the largest ever received by a player for an on-site Grand Slam offence. Other players have been fined larger amounts following a Grand Slam tournament, such as Serena Williams' $82,500 fine in 2009 for her tirade at a U.S. Open line judge.
Italian player Fabio Fognini was fined $96,000 last year after insulting a chair umpire at the U.S. Open, an amount that could be reduced to $48,000 if he doesn't have any further offences over the next two years. That's in addition to a $24,000 fine he paid on-site at the U.S. Open for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The new rule came in response to a rash of first-round retirements at Wimbledon last year. Among those who pulled out were the opponents of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, both of whom retired with pre-existing injuries in back-to-back matches on Centre Court in under 45 minutes.
Australia's Bernard Tomic finished his first-round match — a straight-sets loss to Zverev — but was later fined $15,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct for saying he was bored during the match and couldn't find any motivation to compete.