Fils and Rublev, a tale of two cities: “Answer my fucking question”

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SANTIAGO, Chile – Two very similar situations led to diametrically opposite results. Two cases of tremendous disrespect to ATP officials with shouting and swearing. A tale of two cities 15,000 kilometers apart: Arthur Fils in Santiago, Chile; Andrey Rublev, in Dubai.

“Answer my fucking question!”, the Frenchman Fils shouted disrespectfully in the face of Jorge Mandl, ATP supervisor at the Chile Open. The 19-year-old was incensed by the state of Court 1 at the Chilean tournament, an issue that has been a headache all week and has generated a lot of criticism from players.

“Fucking hell! Tell me how I do it!!! tell me!!!” bellowed Fils during the third set of the match that ended in defeat to Spain’s Pedro Martinez. “Are you a fucking athlete? I’m asking you, are you a fucking athlete or not!” the Frenchman said, raising his voice volume. Mandl’s response was indistinct. Then came another bad reaction from the tennis player: “So, how do you know if it’s possible to play or not on this court? I told you before the tournament. What will happen now if I can’t play?”.

Fils received nothing more than a warning. Why was there such a soft punishment? Why did the ATP officials present in Santiago de Chile allow the Frenchman’s rudeness and bad language?

Mandl declined to address the issue. He was also asked about the similarity of the situation in Dubai. “We won’t talk about that topic,” he told CLAY.

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The day after his “irritation,” Fils apologized via his Instagram stories, “Not good behavior. To clarify, I was concerned about an injury I felt during the game as a result of the condition of the court. Risking your season for a dangerous court is not a pleasant thing for high performance athletes. I hope you understand that”.

Similar tantrum, different punishment

Disqualification from the tournament was what Rublev had to pay, after shouting in the face of a linesman.

The world No. 5 was down 6-5 in the third set to Alexander Bublik. A ball at the back of the court from the Kazakh looked bad to him, but the linesman pointed it in. From there came the explosion of anger of the champion of 15 ATP tournaments.

Rublev default
The moment when Andrey Rublev screamed in the face of the linesman in Dubai.

Ultimately, what led to the sanction was an accusation of another official, Russian speaker, who told the supervisor that his colleague in his native language. Rublev denied it: he said he only spoke in English and did not insult anyone. Bublik agreed to continue the match, but the supervisor’s decision had already been made.

Initially, Rublev’s points and money earned in the tournament were taken away, however, the Russian appealed. The ATP considered the player’s testimony, the officials, and reviewed the video and audio material recorded, and decided that the sanction was excessive. The points and prize money were returned, but the fine of USD$36,400 was upheld in accordance with the code of conduct.

The Russian, spoke to CLAY a little over a year ago about the passionate way he lives tennis: “I’m very emotional and I take everything very personal when it comes to something important to me… and tennis, obviously, is everything to me. Every match, every point I take it very emotional and very personal. I take everything too deep and that’s why improving mentally demands time for me.

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The stories in Santiago and Dubai showed that the ATP still does not have clear and standardized criteria for player sanctions.

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