A fan was escorted out of a U.S. Open tennis match after German player Alexander Zverev said he heard them using a "famous Hitler phrase" during the game.
Zverev, the No. 12 seed, was in the middle of a match against Italian player Jannik Sinner, No. 6, early Tuesday morning when he suddenly stopped and approached the umpire whilst pointing out a fan in the crowd behind him.
“He just said the most famous Hitler phrase there is in this world,” Zverev told umpire James Keothavong, according to The Associated Press. “It’s not acceptable.”
Keothavong then turned back and asked the fan to identify themselves and repeatedly asked the crowd, “who said that?” then reminded fans to be respectful to the players.
The fan was identified by spectators seated around him and removed from by security during a changeover in the fourth set of the match.
The phrase that Zverev heard the fan say was, ‘Deutschland über alles’ which according to Deutsche Welle, a German broadcaster, translates to “Germany above all” and was once the beginning of the national anthem of the Weimar Republic in 1922.
In the 1930s Adolf Hitler adopted the phrase and it was used by the Nazi regime which led to it being banned from being sung in public at the end of World War II in 1945.
“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,” Zverev said. “So if I just don’t react, I think it’s bad from my side.”
The match continued and Zverev went on to win the 5-set marathon match. He will go on to face defending U.S. Open champion Carlos Alcaraz on Wednesday, September 6.