Swiss great Roger Federer has refuted claims by Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas that the most experienced players on the ATP Tour receive preferential treatment from officials.
Federer, speaking after landing the 101st title of his career at the Miami Open with a straight sets triumph over defending champion John Isner, strongly disagreed. He acknowledged that umpires might interact differently with players they are more familiar with but said it didn't amount to preferential treatment.
"It's a tough one but what I do feel sometimes is that on the outside courts, more than just preferential treatment to the top guys, they are tougher on the rules," Federer told AFP.
"You do something - bang, warning. It's like there is no messing about.
"But with the umpires with the top guys on the main courts, I think the umpires know the top guys, they know their problems, they know how they behave and how they will react, so they know what acting stupid or silly means and what normal is.
"So because we know each other very well, I think it's easier for an umpire to handle a top player who they know over an up-and-coming guy like Tsitsipas or a young guy and that sometimes gets lost in translation and maybe bad mistakes can happen. "But I don't see preferential treatment, there shouldn't be," Federer said.
"If I get warnings -- I got one recently -- it's normal. So they should just, based on what happens, take those decisions and I really feel the umpires do that. "I am sorry that Stefanos feels that way."
Playing in the doubles final with Wesley Koolhof on Saturday, Tsitsipas accused umpire Gianluca Moscarella of granting "privileges" to American opponents Bob and Mike Bryan "like you do with Roger and everybody else".
Tsitsipas elaborated on Twitter in response to a question from a Twitter follower, saying that despite Federer being his "favourite" the 20 time Grand Slam champion, along with the likes of Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, are protected by umpires.
"I think players that have been doing really well over the years, players that are generally much respected in the tennis world have privileges when it comes to certain rules and umpire decisions," the world number 10 wrote.
"I felt this couple of times when playing these guys and I think it's a bit unfair.
"Roger Federer is always going to be my favourite player no matter what. I don't want to drag him into this. It's not his fault or intention, it's the umpires that are trying to protect them more than they are supposed to. Nothing more than that."