‘Zverev didn’t understand about responsibility and being a role model’

Barbara Rittner said Zverev would be excluded if he does not follow health protocols at the Berlin exhibition events she's in charge of

Barbara Rittner

Former Fed Cup captain of Germany, Barbara Rittner, has made it clear that Alexander Zverev would have to abide by the health protocols when he plays the Berlin exhibition events.

“He has to stick to the rules with us,” says Rittner, who is also the tournament director of the Berlin series. “You won’t see him with party pictures in Berlin. If he did that, we would exclude him.”

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The event will be played over two legs – the first on the grass courts of the Steffi Graf Stadium from July 13-15 and the second on hard courts at the disused Tempelhof airport from July 17-19. It will feature six men and six women.

Of the participants, Zverev and Dominic Thiem are the only two who had played at the poorly executed Adria Tour, which had to be cancelled midway through because four players, including world No 1 Novak Djokovic, tested positive for Coronavirus.

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Even though the 23-year-old Zverev, seen as the leader of ATP’s NextGen, did not test positive for Coronavirus, he had put out a statement saying he will self-isolate following the Adria Tour debacle. But a few days later, videos of him partying shocked the tennis world.

“Apparently Sascha didn’t understand something about responsibility and role model,” Rittner was quoted as saying by German publication Bild.

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“It damages the entire tennis image. Such actions also mean a great loss of image for him in Germany and internationally. That’s sad. I was shocked by the video.

“This causes everything to wobble, the tournaments are becoming more and more questionable now. And if we have positive cases, the whole construct will collapse.”

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“I am not responsible for whether Sascha Zverev, added Rittner who had reached a career-high of 24 in 1993. “Should be punished for this. I think he is punishing himself with a loss of image because this makes him unbelievable.”

The Berlin event will also allow spectators, but not more than 800 on a day and everyone involved will have to follow social distancing measures.

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