US Open fan thrown out after using ‘most famous Hitler phrase’ against Germany’s Alexander Zverev

Alexander Zverev halted his serve to tell the umpire a spectator “just said the most famous Hitler phrase” – EPA/Will Oliver

A tennis fan was ejected from the US Open on Monday night after being accused by Germany’s Alexander Zverev of shouting “the most famous Hitler phrase there is in this world”.

The incident happened during Zverev’s victory over Italy’s Jannik Sinner on Arthur Ashe Stadium during the late-night slot, which has often been criticised for overly boisterous atmospheres.

Having taken a 2-1 lead into the fourth set, Zverev was serving at 2-2 and 0-15 in the fifth game when he suddenly stopped his motion and approached the chair umpire James Keothavong.

“He just said the most famous Hitler phrase there is in this world,” Zverev told the umpire of a fan in the stands to his left. “This is unbelievable.”

Keothavong replied “Who said that? Who said that? We’re going to get him out” and though he at first asked fans to be respectful to both players, the match was paused at the next changeover.

Keothavong consulted with security officials in an attempt to identify the man accused by Zverev of making the alleged slur, who appeared to be sitting in the section behind the chair umpire.

It was reported that former American tennis player and leading coach Brad Gilbert helped to identify the individual, with security removing a man wearing a blue baseball cap. Other fans booed him as he left and applauded his exit.

It is not yet apparent what was said towards Zverev.

“A disparaging remark was directed toward Alexander Zverev,” US Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier said. “The fan was identified and escorted from the stadium.”

The late-night US Open crowds on the 23,000-capacity Arthur Ashe Stadium are famously boisterous but have been criticised during the tournament.

Former Australian professional Rennae Stubbs said shortly after the Zverev incident on Monday that there were fans at night sessions that were “not good.”

“I love the fans but at this point there are some bad characters,” Stubbs wrote on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.

“I had a drink thrown on me last night by a drunk fan who was fighting with her boyfriend. Now we got someone yelling Hitler slurs! Wtf? Come on peeps.”

German player Laura Siegemund also vented at the Arthur Ashe crowd after her first round defeat to Coco Gauff last week.

“They had no respect for me, no respect for the way I played, no respect for the player that I am, they had no respect for good tennis,” a tearful Siegemund said.

Former US Open runner-up Zverev went on to beat sixth seed Jannik Sinner 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to move into the quarter-finals, with the 26-year-old German earning himself a meeting with defending champion and top seed Carlos Alcaraz.

Zverev is rediscovering his best form after an ankle injury wrecked his 2022 season, and swapped breaks with Sinner early in the contest before going ahead to take the first set with two aces.

Sinner responded immediately with some heavy hitting in the next set to go up 3-0 and turned up the heat in a steamy Arthur Ashe Stadium to thwart the 2020 finalist’s late charge.

Sinner then struggled with cramp in both legs in the third set. The 22-year-old saved five breakpoints to hold for 2-2 but Zverev reeled off the next four games.

Sinner began swinging at everything in the fourth set and Zverev cracked under the onslaught, dropping serve in the ninth game as his opponent forced a decider, having also been distracted midway through the fourth due to the fan incident.

But a crucial break in the fifth set gave Zverev the upper hand and he held his nerve to close out the win in four hours and 41 minutes with a powerful serve.

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