(JTA) — A spectator was ejected from a U.S. Open tennis match early Tuesday morning after allegedly chanting a Nazi anthem at German player Alexander Zverev.
During the fourth set of Zverev’s match against No. 6 Jannik Sinner, the No. 12 seed approached the umpire’s chair, pointed toward the stands and said, “He just said the most famous Hitler phrase there is in this world. It’s not acceptable.” The exchange was shown on ESPN’s broadcast.
The umpire, James Keothavong, turned to the crowd and asked the fan to identify himself, before reminding the arena to be respectful to both players. The fan was ultimately identified by security and removed from the event.
After the match, Zverev explained that the fan “started singing the anthem of Hitler that was back in the day,” according to the Associated Press. “It was ‘Deutschland über alles’ and it was a bit too much.”
Under Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime, Germany rewrote the beginning to its national anthem to include the phrase “Deutschland über alles,” which means “Germany above all.” The addition was later removed after World War II.
Zverev, who lost the interrupted set but would go on to win the match, said he likes when fans are loud but that he had to intervene in this incident.
“I think me being German and not really proud of that history, it’s not really a great thing to do and I think him sitting in one of the front rows, I think a lot of people heard it,” said Zverev, a native of Hamburg born to Russian parents, both of whom were professional tennis players. “So if I just don’t react, I think it’s bad from my side.”
The U.S. Tennis Association, which operates the annual tennis grand slam tournament hosted in Queens, New York, acknowledged the incident in a statement, saying “A disparaging remark was directed toward Alexander Zverev. The fan was identified and escorted from the stadium.”
The match would ultimately end at about 1:40 a.m. local time. “It’s his loss, to be honest, to not witness the final two sets of that match,” Zverev said about the fan who had been removed.