Physical abuse is an offensive act by a tennis player that breaks the code of conduct of a competitive tennis match.
The 2023 All Tennis Professionals (ATP) rulebook states that, “Players shall not at any time physically abuse any official, opponent, spectator or other person within the precincts of the tournament site. For purposes of this rule, physical abuse is the unauthorized touching of an official, opponent, and spectator or other person.”
The fine for a player who is given a code violation for physical abuse is up to $20,000 for ATP Challenger Tour tournaments, $30,000 for ATP Tour 250 tournaments, $40,000 for ATP Tour 500 tournaments and $60,000 for ATP Tour Masters 1000 tournaments. A player is penalized based on the Point Penalty Schedule when a physical abuse code violation ensues. However, if the offense is severe, then the player can also be immediately defaulted. This decision is made by the ATP Fines Committee and the match officials. In women’s tennis, players can be fined up to $10,000 for physical abuse.
In the past, many players have been defaulted for physical abuse. Here is a comprehensive list:
- 1995 French Open – Carsten Ariens is disqualified for hitting a lineswoman with a thrown racquet.
- 1995 Wimbledon – Tim Henman hits a ball girl with a ball.
- 1997 Miami Open – Mariano Zabaleta hits a line judge with a ball.
- 2000 French Open – Stefan Koubek hits a ball boy.
- 2005 Miami Open – Xavier Malisse hits and insults a line judge.
- 2012 Queen’s Club – David Nalbandian kicks an advertising board and injures an official in the process.
- 2017 Davis Cup – Denis Shapovalov hits the chair umpire with a ball hurled in anger.
- 2020 US Open – Novak Djokovic hits a line judge with a ball hit in anger.