Fan ejected from US Open match after shouting former German national anthem phrase associated with Hitler

A fan was ejected from a match at the US Open on Monday, organizers said, after German player Alexander Zverev complained about hearing the individual use a since-removed phrase from the German national anthem, which Germany reinterpreted as a call for Nazi superiority during World War II.

During the fourth set of his fourth-round match against Italy’s Jannik Sinner in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Zverev approached umpire James Keothavong to protest about the fan’s behavior.

“He just said the most famous Hitler phrase there is in this world, it’s unacceptable,” Zverev said on-court at the time. “This is unbelievable.”

Zverev told reporters that he heard the individual singing the words “Deutschland über alles,” which translates to “Germany above all.”

The verse of the anthem was written as a call for unity in Germany in the 1800s. However, the lyrics took on new meaning as a rallying cry celebrating what Nazis believed was their superiority and was removed from the song after the war.

“He started singing the anthem of Hitler that was back in the day ‘Deutschland über alles.’ It was a bit too much,” Zverev said, according to AFP.

As the incident unfolded, Keothavong turned towards the fans sitting behind him and asked the spectator to identify themself. Broadcast footage showed a fan later being guided out of the stadium by security.

Zverev speaks with Keothavong during his US Open fourth-round match. – Brad Penner/AP

A US Tennis Association (USTA) spokesperson told CNN: “A disparaging remark was directed towards Zverev. The fan was identified and escorted from the stadium.”

Zverev said that the spectator could be heard during the match for a long time.

“I love when fans are loud, I love when fans are emotional, but I think me being German and not really proud of that history, it’s not really a great thing to do,” he said.

“And him sitting in one of the front rows, a lot of people heard it. If I just don’t react, I think it’s bad from my side.”

Zverev went on to defeat Sinner 6-4 3-6 6-2 4-6 6-3 in four hours, 41 minutes – the longest match of the tournament so far.

As he continues his return from a serious ankle injury sustained at last year’s French Open, the 26-year-old Zverev will next face defending champion Carlos Alcaraz in the US Open quarterfinals.

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