Rafael Nadal and Chris Evert believe there need to be tougher sanctions against players, like Alexander Zverev, who abuse tennis officials.
The German was handed a suspended ban for his meltdown in Mexico.
Last month, Zverev struck the umpire’s chair repeatedly, nearly hitting his foot, after losing the first round of doubles at the Mexico Open.
The 24-year-old was kicked out of the tournament and given a $40,000 fine. But after reviewing his case, the ATP decided to hand him a only suspended ban.
Speaking ahead of the Indian Wells Masters tournament on Thursday, Nadal said more stringent punishments should be levied in future.
“It’s so difficult to talk in my position because from from one point of view, I have a good relationship with Sascha (Zverev)– I like him and I practice with him very often,” Nadal said.
“I wish him all the very best and he knows that he was wrong, honestly, and he recognized that very early.
“So that’s a positive thing in his side, in my opinion.
“On the other hand … if we’re not able to control and create a rule or or a way to penalise this type of attitudes a little bit in a stronger way, then we as a players, we feel stronger and stronger all the time.
“We need to be a positive example, especially for the kids watching us.
“So from one side, I don’t want a penalization for Sascha because I like him and I have very good relationship with him.
“In the other hand … I’d like to see something harder for this kind of attitudes, not only him, I mean in general terms because this protects the sport and protects the referees.”
The Spaniard has enjoyed a blistering start to 2022, going unbeaten at 15-0 as well as snaffling his record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.
Tennis legend Chris Evert also believes that the punishment was too lenient and Zverev should have been suspended for a few months.
“That punishment or that consequence to me is too lenient. He should have been out for months,” Evert told Eurosport.
The 24-year-old, who has since apologised both publicly and privately to umpire Alessandro Germani, has said the controversy was the “worst moment of his life” and vowed to work on his behaviour.
Last week, Serena Williams pointed out the double standard she faces and suggested she would “probably be in jail” if she lashed out like Zverev.
Evert agreed Williams would have been treated far differently.
“I wouldn’t go as far as saying she would go to jail, but I think she has a point and I think that definitely her consequences would have been far stricter than Zverev’s,” the 18-time Grand Slam champion said.
“Welcome to the world of men and women. I think it is a female and male issue. I agree with Serena.
“There would have been stricter consequences if she would have done it. I think the WTA would have put stricter consequences on any woman who would have done this.
“The umpire looked like he was in harm’s way. And that’s serious.”