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Tennis • The Injustice Of Justice As The ATP Go Soft On Sam Querrey

Sam Querrey of the US was fined $20,000 for breaking Covid-19 protocols subject to committing no further breaches of health and safety protocols related to Covid-19 within a probationary six-month period.

By Alix Ramsay

There are times when you have to feel sorry for Nick Kyrgios. Of course he is his own worst enemy – he takes one look at his size 11s and immediately takes aim with his firearm of choice – and some of the things he has said and done over the years have been appalling. But he is right when he says that there is one rule for him and another for everyone else.

Three days ago, the ATP published its findings into Querrey-gate.

The tall American, his wife and eight-month-old son all tested positive for Covid-19 before his opening match at the St. Petersburg in October. In Russia, the rules concerning the virus are strict and those who test positive with symptoms have to be isolated in hospital.

The Querrey family clearly did not fancy that so they holed up in their hotel room before doing a dawn flit to the airport and leaving the country on a private jet. They told no one what they were doing or where they were going and the first the tournament knew about it was when the company that owned the private jet informed them that Querrey had gone.

These actions were deemed by the ATP to be a “serious offence” – he had broken every Covid protocol in the book. And yet when the investigation was complete, Querrey was fined just $20,000 with that fine suspended provided big Sam doesn’t blot his copy book again in the next six months. The maximum penalty could have been $100,000 and a suspension of up to three years so to say that he got off lightly does not do the affair justice. But, then again, justice is a loose term in tennis.

The investigation concluded: “Taking into consideration Mr. Querrey’s many years of otherwise good standing with the ATP and other mitigating factors, the fine is suspended and will be lifted subject to Mr. Querrey committing no further breaches of health and safety protocols related to Covid-19 within a probationary six-month period.”

That is a bit like a judge at the Old Bailey decreeing that Alfie “Crusher” Wilkins only be given 50 hours community service – suspended for six months – for a £10million bank job due to the fact that he is good to his old mum and holds a position of responsibility with the Wembley chapter of the British Budgie Fanciers Society.

Querrey’s selfish behaviour put other people’s lives at risk: the driver who took him and his family to the airport, the pilot and crew of the plane, the people at the airport where he landed, the driver who took him to his digs at his destination – all these people were in close proximity to the Querreys who all had Covid-19. And Covid-19 can kill. But, according to the ATP’s investigation, it’s all right because Sam is basically a good lad and he’d never done anything like that before.

Compare that, then, to Kyrgios.

Nick Kyrgios of Australia was fined $113,000 for unsportsmanlike behavior during the Cincinnati Masters 1000 in 2019.

Last year, the Australian had another of his on-court meltdowns and over the course of three sets, engaged in a running verbal battle with the umpire, Fergus Murphy, at the Cincinnati Masters 1000. He called Murphy everything from a “potato” and a “spud” to “the worst f*****g ref ever” and “a f*****g tool”. Just for good measure, he left the court for a bathroom break without permission and smashed a couple of rackets. It was not Nick’s finest hour.

By the time he was finished, he had racked up so many offences that his fines added up to $113,000. All for swearing, acting like a petulant kid and smashing a couple of rackets. For behaving in an “unsportsmanlike” manner.

He did not compare Murphy’s phizog to a starchy tuber while dangling the hapless umpire by his big toe out of a 20-storey building; he did not describe his umpiring skills in language both lewd and crude while setting fire to the man’s trousers and he did not attempt to flush Murphy’s head down the toilet while on his unofficial bathroom break. All he did was make the umpire look like a bit of a berk: Fergus was supposed to be in charge but, clearly, Nick was running the show. No one was put at risk, no one was in danger; the only injury incurred was to Murphy’s pride and reputation.

But Nick’s past goes before him; he is an easy target. He lets rip at an umpire and officialdom can look big and butch by slapping a six figure fine on him and threatening to ban him for months. Yet when Big Sam acts like the worst Covidiot on the planet and put the lives of others at risk, officialdom does not know what to do.

It cannot have been easy for Querrey and his family and they must have been scared when their test results came back positive. No one wishes them any harm but, at the same time, he broke the rules. He broke very important rules designed to keep people safe. And if the ATP can make a public example of Nick Kyrgios for swearing, surely they have to make an example of Sam Querrey for putting people’s lives at risk.

Yes, there are times when you have to feel sorry for poor old Nick.