Andrey Rublev Defaulted From Dubai Open After Russian-Speaking Linesperson Says He Cussed

Tennis is an emotionally volatile and frequently polyglot sport. Players are prone to freak out in a range of languages over the course of a single match, and because certain types of speech violate tour rules, officials sometimes pool their linguistic abilities together to parse these outbursts. Fans might remember when a Greek-speaking umpire was secretly deployed to identify illegal in-match coaching between Stefanos Tsitsipas and his father at the Australian Open in 2022. Tsitsipas probably figured he was in the clear speaking Greek.

When Andrey Rublev unleashed a mostly English tirade at a linesperson at the Dubai Open on Friday, he probably did not anticipate that a stray rude word of Russian would be detected by staff. He was wrong, and then he was defaulted for unsportsmanlike conduct at the match’s climax, right as he was about to serve with Alexander Bublik up 6-5 in the third set.

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During the final point of the previous game, Rublev thought that one of his opponent’s shots had sailed long. After he lost that point, Rublev walked over to the linesperson responsible for the no-call and screamed in his face; there were a lot of enthusiastic repetitions of “out.” That would’ve resulted in just a warning, if not for the intervention of a neighboring linesperson who evidently understood Russian. That second linesperson walked over to the umpire and reported what he had heard Rublev say to his colleague.

The tour supervisor arrived on court, stood in front of Rublev, and had the Russophone linesperson directly inform Rublev what he’d heard him say, as if litigating a case of schoolyard tattling. Rublev insisted that he was speaking only English, but that did not prove persuasive. Eventually the supervisor told it to him straight: “[The linesperson] said you said ‘fucking moron.’”

“No ‘fucking,’” Rublev said. “I didn’t say ‘fucking’!” There were a few more rounds of futile objection, as he asked that the supervisor consult video of the incident instead of taking the linesperson at his word, but the supervisor decided that the match was over. A confused Bublik offered to continue the match, but the ruling was final.

“Code violation, unsportsmanlike conduct, default Mr. Rublev,” intoned the umpire. At the 0:13 mark of the video above, as Rublev first steps toward the linesperson, you can easily make out the word debil, which translates to “moron.” Whether he threw on a colorful modifier is a matter left to the professionals.

Rublev, the No. 5 men’s player in the world, has a rich history of outbursts. Most of those might be better described as “inbursts,” as they generally involve lashing his own limbs with his racquet, often with bloody results, but in recent months he’s been channeling his anger toward others. In Shanghai last October, he berated a photographer who moved around during a rally. In December, he walked up the steps of the high chair to stick his hand in the umpire’s face during a London exhibition match. It’s an odd contrast to observe in a player who is uniformly sweet and good-natured outside of matches, but he wouldn’t be the first tennis player for whom competition draws all demons to the surface. If he’s got to keep letting it out, it might be time to learn a more obscure language.

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