Marc Rosset, the Olympic gold-medallist from Switzerland, responded angrily yesterday after being accused by Jeff Tarango of benefiting in matches because he is a friend of the French umpire, Bruno Rebeuh.
Tarango made the allegations after being disqualified for walking out of his third-round match against Germany's Alexander Mronz at Wimbledon on Saturday following a row with Rebeuh.
Today, when the All England Club is due to announce fines totalling five figures for Tarango's disqualification, Mronz will play Andre Agassi, the top seed, on the Centre Court.
Rosset, who lost in the first round to the American Michael Joyce after being seeded No 10, strongly denied Tarango's accusations and demanded an investigation by the ATP Tour and the International Tennis Federation.
This is already underway, and Tarango could face suspension if further charges are brought against him.
"It is true that Bruno and I are friends," Rosset said, "but it's only because we speak the same language. There is no more to it than that."
Stephane Oberer, Rosset's coach, described Tarango's statement as "nonsense".
Ironically, it is possible that Rosset and Tarango will meet next week at the Swiss Open, in Gstaad. The American gained entry to the main draw because of the injury to Magnus Larsson which ended the Swede's prospects of playing at Wimbledon.
Tarango's French wife, Benedicte, admitted hitting Rebeuh after the match. Philippe Buin, of L'Equipe, witnessed the attack outside the referee's office. "As Bruno walked towards the office from the courts, Mrs Tarango caught him by the arm and twice hit him on the head," he said.
"Bruno held up an arm to protect himself, and walked on into the office."
The Tarangos returned to the All England Club yesterday for further questioning by the referee, Alan Mills, and other tennis officials. Afterwards, the player said: "I will stay here until justice is done. I don't regret what happened."
Nor was there contrition from Mrs Tarango. "I don't regret anything," she said. "I am a little hot-blooded, but that is my Latin temperament."
There are no complications concerning the fines for the default and the two code violations. "He walked out of the match, so, therefore, that was an automatic default," Mills said. "There was no question about that."
Bill Babcock, the Grand Slam Administrator, is leading an investigation to determine if Tarango is guilty of "aggravated behaviour", which could lead to an additional fine and, possibly, a lengthy suspension.
Had the fourth-round match been completed, Tarango would have won either pounds 47,000 for reaching the quarter-finals or pounds 25,550 for losing in the last 16. He will receive the balance after the fines have been deducted.
Concerning Tarango's allegations about the umpire, Mills said: "There are so many ramifications from that. There is so much legal involvement in it that, obviously, it will take some time. We obviously cannot comment on what is going to happen until we have made an investigation.
He added: "If he was uncomfortable with the chair umpire, he had ample time before the match started to make the complaint or bring it to our attention. Certainly twice that I can recall that situation has arisen with other players, and I have changed the chair umpire."
Babcock said: "Bruno's rights are at risk here. The statements made against him are so serious that there won't be a comment from him during these championships."
Who is Jeff Tarango?, page 21
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