A fan was removed from a U.S. Open tennis match after German player Alexander Zverev accused them of using “the most famous Hitler phrase” during the game.
Zverev, the No. 12 seed, was serving in a match against No. 6 Jannik Sinner when he could be seen suddenly approaching the umpire and pointing out a fan behind him.
“He just said the most famous Hitler phrase there is in this world,” Zverev could be heard saying in the video, aired by ESPN. “It’s not acceptable.”
Umpire James Keothavong can then be seen turning back in his chair and asking the fan to identify himself. “Put your hand up,” the umpire said, before repeatedly asking “Who said that?”
Security members could soon be seen approaching a fan and escorting them out of the venue during a break in the fourth set of the marathon match, which began late Monday and finished early Tuesday.
“A disparaging remark was directed toward Alexander Zverev,” U.S. Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier said, according to The Associated Press. “The fan was identified and escorted from the stadium.” The U.S. Tennis Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.
Zverev said later that the fan had started “singing the anthem of Hitler that was back in the day,” The AP reported. “It was ‘Deutschland über alles’ and it was a bit too much,” he said.
According to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, those words, which translate to “Germany above all” once formed the start of the song that was officially declared the national anthem of the Weimar Republic in 1922.
After Adolf Hitler rose to power in the 1930s, the Nazi regime began to misuse the verse, however, leading public singing of the anthem to be banned following the end of World War II in 1945.
Years later, it was requested by then-Chancellor Konrad Adenauer that the song be reintroduced, but only with the third verse being sung: “Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit / Für das deutsche Vaterland,” which translates to “Unity and justice and freedom / for the German fatherland,” Deutsche Welle reported.
“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,” the tennis star said, according to The AP. “So if I just don’t react, I think it’s bad from my side.”
Zverev went on to drop the set, but won the fifth, bringing an end to a match that lasted nearly five hours.
He will go on to play defending U.S. Open champion Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinals.