NEW YORK, SEPT. 6 -- John McEnroe was fined $7,500 today by the Men's International Professional Tennis Council for his profane tirade during his third-round U.S. Open victory Saturday over Slobodan Zivojinovic. That fine, if upheld, automatically draws an additional $10,000 penalty and two-month suspension because of other infractions this year.
"Obviously, I spent a good deal of time on this decision," said Grand Prix Supervisor Ken Farrar, who decided on the fines after reviewing tapes of the incident. "I knew this could put him out of the game for two months but it was intolerable and unacceptable behavior. I can't believe I've heard a more vile, disgusting attack on a chair umpire."
McEnroe, who was not available to comment today, was assessed three different fines: $500 for the first code of conduct warning assessed by chair umpire Richard Ings, $5,000 (the maximum) for cursing at Ings, an act that drew a point penalty, and $2,000 for cursing at a CBS technician working the courtside boom microphone.
Under new rules adopted this year, McEnroe is currently in stage two of the fine process. In May, he walked off the court and defaulted a match in Dusseldorf and reached the $7,500 fine limit. For that, he was fined an additional $10,000.
At that point, his fine count went back to zero and entered stage two, meaning that if he reached $7,500 again during a 12-month period, he would be fined another $10,000 and be suspended for two months.
McEnroe will appeal the fines, his agent Peter Lawler said today, on the grounds that they are "excessive." But if the appeal is turned down by Pro Council administrator Marshall Happer, as seems likely, McEnroe will be suspended beginning two weeks after the end of the Open.
That will mean McEnroe will be unable to defend titles he won last year in San Francisco and Scottsdale, Ariz. It would have other ramifications. He would have almost no chance to qualify for the eight-man Nabisco Masters in December; it would mean a precipitous drop in his computer ranking and it would force him off the tour at a time when his game is starting to come back together.
Lawler, who will make the appeal to Happer, said today that he will argue that McEnroe should not be suspended for two months for an act that did not cause him to be defaulted from the match.
"If his actions didn't merit a default, why do they merit a two months' suspension?" he said. "I would rather have him defaulted and get it over with than have this happen. I wish Ken had made the fine just under $7,500. At least that would give John a chance to play knowing that he had to behave perfectly or face a suspension."
Lawler spent a good deal of time on the phone with Farrar Saturday night, trying to convince him to lower the fine. He then called McEnroe at his Manhattan apartment shortly before midnight to give him the news. Lawler again spoke with McEnroe, who did not practice today, this morning to decide whether to appeal.
"John knows he made a mistake," Lawler said. "But he doesn't think Ings was innocent, either, and that should be taken into account."
The incident began with McEnroe up one set and serving at 5-3, set point, in the second. During a "engthy base-line rally, Zivojinovic hit three shots that landed either just in or just out. All were close. All were called good. When McEnroe hit a backhand deep that made the score deuce, he screamed angrily.
McEnroe missed a volley and yelled at Ings: "Was that point important enough? Huh? It was only a set point!" He then saved the break point to reach deuce again, but double-faulted. When he netted a backhand volley, he stormed to his chair, now up only 5-4.
During the changeover, McEnroe continued to yell at Ings: "Can't you see anything?" he said. "That call cost me the damn set . . . It was over, completely over and you can't see a damn thing." It was then that Ings, an Australian, gave McEnroe the $500 warning. McEnroe's next four words were the ones Farrar described as "vile and disgusting." That cost McEnroe the point penalty and $5,000.
He played the next two games clearly distracted and, after Zivojinovic broke to lead, 6-5, continued his argument with Ings while changing his shirt. Finally, Ings said, "I'm really tired of this conversation. I see no point in continuing."
McEnroe, pulling on his shirt, saw the boom microphone and made his comment to the technician. That brought on the game penalty and the final $2,000 fine. After that, McEnroe calmed down and played excellent tennis to pull out a taut match. He was repentant after the match, saying that Ings was within his rights to assess the penalties and that he was sorry he had used the obscenities. By then, it was too late.
McEnroe has 10 days to appeal beginning at the end of this tournament. He can appeal sooner if he chooses. Happer said today he will render a decision quickly.
Other players expressed regret today about what happened, but saw no alternative to the action Farrar took.
"There are rules and you have to follow the rules," said Mats Wilander. "I think he should definitely have a suspension but how long is hard to say. If he does, though, I think it will be bad for him. He needs match play. He's back right now almost 100 percent, and if he can't play that would be the worst for him."
Jimmy Connors agreed. "It's a shame the whole thing happened," he said. "I guess he really lost it there for a while. If he's out for two months, it's bad for tennis, but what can you do?"
If upheld, this will be the sixth suspension of McEnroe's career and would bring his fine total to $80,500.