The ATP announced Friday that it could find no evidence that Ryan Harrison directed a racial slur at Donald Young during a match Monday at the New York Open, an ATP 250 event being played in Uniondale, N.Y.
“The ATP conducted a full investigation into this week’s match at the New York Open between Ryan Harrison and Donald Young,” the tour said in a statement. “All available evidence was reviewed including match footage and interviews with match officials and other tournament personnel who were in close proximity of the players. Unfortunately, the audio recording of the match footage did not pick up verbal exchanges between the players. At this time no evidence has been found to support the allegation that Ryan Harrison used a racial slur during the match.”
After Monday night’s match, which the sixth-seeded Harrison won, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), Young accused Harrison of making a comment “about me as a black tennis player.”
“I’m shocked and disappointed, Ryan Harrison, to hear you tell me how you really feel about me as a black tennis player,” Young tweeted after the match. “I thought this was supposed to be an inclusive gentleman’s sport.”
Harrison denied making such comments roughly 45 minutes later, tweeting that Young’s accusations were “absolutely untrue.”
“Any video/audio will 100% clear me and I encourage anyone with the available resources to find it,” he added.
Tennis Channel video captured by one Twitter user showed the two getting involved in an argument during a break in the first-set action.
In comments made to reporters after the match, Harrison chalked up the disagreement to the heat of the battle.
“At the end of the day, you see everybody, you like everybody and you want to be friends or friendly with everybody but everybody out here that I compete against — even the ones that I like — they’re the ones trying to take away my livelihood,” he said. “So I’ve got to do what I can to come through and I’m just proud of myself for doing that.”
One of the ballboys during the match, Michael Bruno, told the New York Times that neither he nor any of his co-workers heard any racial comments from Harrison during the exchange and told an ATP official exactly that.
“I’m right there, and I didn’t hear it,” said Bruno, whom the Times describes as more of a fan of Young than Harrison. “No one heard a racial comment; no one on my side, no one on Young’s side. No racial terminology whatsoever.
“I guess if he whispered it,” he continued. “But I never saw anything that shows one of them was whispering. And I would still be in close proximity.”
According to Bruno, the incident started when Harrison told Young to stop celebrating Harrison’s mistakes on the court, which in tennis is considered poor form. It escalated from there, with the two hurling what Bruno described as nonracial insults at each other.
“Donald Young said, ‘Let’s take this outside, let’s fight outside,’ ” Bruno said. “Ryan kept saying, ‘You’re this tall,’ and kept gesturing with his hand, ‘You’re this tall, you’re this tall.’ ”
It wasn’t the first time Harrison has been involved in an in-match argument. At the 2015 Cincinnati Masters, Harrison and Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis had to be separated by tournament officials.
During an April 2016 tournament in Georgia, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev was disqualified for making a racist comment after the umpire ruled in favor of Young during a match. Medvedev alleged that the umpire made the call because both she and Young were black.
“I know that you are friends. I am sure of it,” Medvedev was heard saying to the umpire. The U.S. Tennis Association said in a statement that it disqualified him for “question[ing] the impartiality of the umpire based on her race.”
This post has been updated.
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