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Andrey Rublev versus the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship

The player found himself out of the running for the title in a controversial elimination from the chair umpire for allegedly using expletives when screaming at a line judge.


On Friday, March 1, 2024, world number five Andrey Rublev was unceremoniously disqualified for ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’ from his semi-final match against Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik.


The crowd watched with bated breath as the two talented players went toe-to-toe in the third and final set of the match, with each player having won one of the prior sets in a tiebreak.


But it was when the Russian went down 5-6 in the final set that disaster struck. Believing a shot from Bublik was wrongly called ‘in’, Rublev yelled in the face of a line judge.


This was quickly followed by the ATP (Association of Tennis Players) supervisor Roland Herfel coming to speak with the player. Herfel claimed that a Russian speaking official had informed him Rublev had sworn at the line judge in his native tongue.


Rublev insisted that he had only spoken in English, and denied all claims of having used any profanities, but it was ultimately decided by chair umpire Miriam Bley that he should be defaulted.


As per the rules of the ATP, this would mean that Rublev had to leave Dubai with none of his ranking points and no prize money. It would also mean that he would drop out of the top five players in the world.


Many players and fans came out in his support, with female player Daria Kasatkina terming the decision a ‘joke’, and emphasising the need for electronic line calling and a video assistant referee in the sport.


However, Rublev was quick to file an appeal with the ATP Appeals Committee, who came back with positive news. They confirmed that while the decision stands, the athlete will receive all his earned ranking points, thus keeping him in the top five.


In addition, he will get to keep $121,355 of his original $157,755 prize money, with the remaining $36,400 to be credited to the ATP as a fine for his disorderly conduct.


Admittedly, while very skilled, the player has previously displayed poor coping mechanisms when he is at a disadvantage on the scoreboard. Viewers have hitherto noticed many signs of volatile behaviour from the 26 year old.


His anger is usually aimed at himself, with preceding matches leaving him with self-inflicted wounds on his knuckles and knees, as well as emotional outbursts and crying fits.


But he recognises his issues, and, in his latest statement, promises to ‘learn from this and try to be a better player and better person.’


Nonetheless, he is extremely friendly off the court, with a heart of gold. He is very popular among avid fans of him and of the sport, always taking time out to sign autographs and click pictures with them.


Andrey Rublev will next play the Indian Wells Masters 1000, starting on Friday, March 8, 2024.

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