Federer responded to the claims (Picture: TPN/Getty Images)After securing his 101st career title on Sunday, Roger Federer was forced to defend tennis umpires over allegations of special treatment.
The claim, made by rising Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas, is that Federer and other top stars benefit from ‘privileges’ from match officials.
Tsitsipas first made the accusation on court when frustration boiled after what he perceived to be a late challenge from legendary pairing the Bryan brothers in the Miami Open men’s doubles final, and he referenced Federer as one of the recipients of preferential treatment.
The Athenian didn’t stop there, though, and defended his outburst during a Twitter Q&A moments before Federer’s singles final against big-serving American John Isner.
He tweeted: ‘I think players that have been doing really well over the years, players that are generally much respected in the tennis world, have privileges when it comes to certain rules and umpire decisions.
Here’s a video of the moment.
Tsitsipas complaining that the Bryans get privileges just like Federer… Interesting.
(📹 @TennisTV) @MiamiOpen pic.twitter.com/4XDjC0sM8l
— Joe (@ProdigyRepV3) March 30, 2019
‘I felt this [a] couple of times when playing these guys and I think it’s a bit unfair.’
Following a 6-1 6-4 win over a wounded Isner, Federer refuted the notion that he received ‘preferential treatment’ but accepted umpires can be tougher on outside courts while pointing out that experienced show court match officials are simply more familiar with tennis’ bigger names.
‘It’s a tough one but what I do feel sometimes is that on the outside courts, more than just preferential treatment to the top guys, they are tougher on the rules,’ Federer told AFP.
‘You do something – bang, warning. It’s like there is no messing about.
‘But with the umpires with the top guys on the main courts, I think the umpires know the top guys, they know their problems, they know how they behave and how they will react, so they know what acting stupid or silly means and what normal is.
Stefanos Tsitsipas with tennis legend Roger Federer (Picture: Getty)‘So because we know each other very well, I think it’s easier for an umpire to handle a top player who they know over an up-and-coming guy like Tsitsipas or a young guy and that sometimes gets lost in translation and maybe bad mistakes can happen.
‘But I don’t see preferential treatment, there shouldn’t be. If I get warnings – I got one recently – it’s normal. So they should just, based on what happens, take those decisions and I really feel the umpires do that.
‘I am sorry that Stefanos feels that way.’
Tsitsipas holds no ill-feeling towards his idol Federer over the situation, believing the Swiss is blame-free.
‘Roger Federer is always going to be my favourite player no matter what,’ he added. ‘I don’t want to drag him into this.
‘It’s not his fault or intention, it’s the umpires that are trying to protect them more than they are supposed to. Nothing more than that.’