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Antics are costly to Tarango


WIMBLEDON, England -- Jeff Tarango learned yesterday just how much it costs to mess with Wimbledon:


The American was hit with the highest fine imposed in the tournament's 118-year history for his actions Saturday, when he shouted at the crowd, abused the umpire and quit his third-round match against Alexander Mronz, who was awarded a 7-6 (8-6), 3-1 victory by default.

He was fined $10,000 for verbally abusing chair umpire Bruno Rebeuh, whom he called "the most corrupt official in the game." Tarango also received fines of $5,000 for failing to complete the match and $500 for unsportsmanlike conduct for shouting "shut up" at the crowd.

Wimbledon officials promised to investigate Tarango's allegations that Rebeuh boasted of favoring players on the tour. Rebeuh, however, was given a top assignment yesterday, umpiring the Pete Sampras-Greg Rusedski match on Centre Court.

"So far, I feel the investigation has been and hopefully will continue to be conducted as fairly as it has been so far," Tarango said in a prepared statement.

Tarango apologized to Marc Rosset, the Swiss player who he said had been helped by Rebeuh.

"I am sure he has no involvement, and I would also like to add that I think he is a truly great player," Tarango said.

Tarango also thanked several players for their support, including Sampras. But when asked about Tarango's walk-off, Sampras said: "That's something you just don't do in the third round of Wimbledon.

"There was a great opportunity for him to get to the fourth round," Sampras said. "He overreacted and lost his cool and really is paying the price right now. I haven't talked to him since it happened. It's unfortunate, and I don't like to see things like that happen."

Tarango lauded his wife, Benedicte, who admitted to slapping Rebeuh.

"My wife and I had to stand alone and defend ourselves against overwhelming pressures," he said.

Rebeuh, who has declined to comment publicly on the incident, gave his version of the slapping incident in his report to Wimbledon officials.

He said: "On my way back to the referee's office with Stefan Fransson, the Grand Slam supervisor, Mrs. Tarango walked up behind me, pinched and twisted my arm and then slapped my face twice and said, 'Anyway, I will see you again. . . .' "

Tarango's tour status is unclear. But he said he would like to resume playing at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, July 17-23.

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