Zverev cops big fine over first-round withdrawal

Mischa Zverev has been hit with a big fine after pulling out of the Australian Open midway through his first round match.

The German world number 35 was fined almost all of his prize money after he retired while 6-2, 4-2 down to South Korean Hyeon Chung.

Zverev, 30, was fined A$56,000 (US$45,000) after lasting just 48 minutes. First-round losers at Melbourne Park receive $A60,000 in prize money.

Tennis officials introduced new rules last year to combat a plague of mid-match withdrawals at grand slams to stop injured players turning up just to claim the prize money.

Rule changes approved by the Grand Slam Board allow unfit players to receive 50 percent of the first-round prize money if they withdraw on-site before the tournament while the “lucky loser” who takes their place receives the remaining 50 percent.

Zverev pulled out claiming he was suffering from a viral illness, but it’s clear match officials didn’t think too much of his excuse.