Rafael Nadal sends warning to Alexander Zverev over Mexican Open umpire attack

Alexander Zverev has been warned by a tennis rival that he should be slapped with a much harsher penalty if he were to have another on-court meltdown.

The German was given a £31,000 fine and kicked out of the Mexican Open last week for hurling verbal abuse at the umpire and repeatedly smashing his racket against his chair.

After an investigation, the ATP added an eight-week ban and a further fine of £19,000 to that punishment, though both were suspended for a year – meaning Zverev is on probation rather than serving a ban.

It means the world number three is free to compete at the Indian Wells Masters, with action from the main draw beginning today.

Many have suggested that the German got off lightly for his tantrum, with Rafael Nadal adding his name to that group in a pre-tournament press conference.

The Spaniard believes that tougher penalties for such outbursts are needed because they hurt the popularity of the sport.

"I have a good relationship with Sascha, I like him, I practise with him very often, so I wish him all the very best. And he knows that he was wrong and he recognized that very early and that's a positive thing," the Australian Open champion said.

"On the other hand, if we are not able to control this type of attitude on court, not just this one instance in particular, there has been other stuff going on in the last couple months.

"If we are not able to penalize these types of attitudes in a little stronger way, then we as players will feel stronger and stronger all the time.

"In this sport, we have to be a positive example, especially for the kids."

Nadal's words come after Zverev admitted that his meltdown was "embarrassing" and that it was the "biggest mistake" of his career.

"It still is embarrassing for me now," he told reporters in California. "Walking around the locker room, it's not a nice feeling.

"But we all do mistakes. I'm also a human being, and I can guarantee you I will never act this way again in my life. It was definitely the worst moment of my life."

Zverev has apologised both publicly and privately to the chair umpire for his actions.

Meanwhile, Nadal is hoping for more success at Indian Wells, after enjoying a very strong start to the season after a long time away with a foot injury.

His success in Melbourne marked a record 21 Grand Slam titles, and the Spaniard is unbeaten in his 15 matches so far this year.

"As everyone knows this is one of my favourite tournaments," Nadal added.

"I have been practising, playing some golf, enjoying the good weather here and trying to be ready for the tournament. I have been trying to be calm, but I am increasing the practice."

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