The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) on Tuesday said it has launched an internal investigation after a first-round match between two American players at the New York Open boiled over on the court.
The ATP Tour officials say they are reviewing "allegations of racial prejudice" after Ryan Harrison and Donald Young exchanged words in the first set and had to be separated by the chair umpire during a changeover in play on Monday.
"The ATP takes any allegations of racial prejudice extremely seriously," the organisation said in a statement. "A further review of all video and audio recording from the match will take place as this matter is investigated further.
"No further comment will be made until the completion of the investigation."
The courtside audio is all but non-existent, but looks pretty hostile at the new New York Open between Ryan Harrison and Donald Young. pic.twitter.com/qYH3n8C3dB
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) February 13, 2018
The two continued their exchange later on their social media profiles.
African-American Young, 28, posted on Twitter after the match: "I'm shocked and disappointed, Ryan Harrison, to hear you tell me how you really feel about me as a black tennis player in the middle of our NY match."
The 25-year-old Harrison, who won the match 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) shot back on Twitter, "The accusations made by Donald Young tonight following our match are absolutely untrue. I'm extremely disappointed that someone would say this in reaction to a lost tennis match. Any video/audio will 100% clear me."
Harrison and Young have met eight times since their first match in 2010, with Harrison holding a 6-2 lead.
In matches on Tuesday, Japan's Kei Nishikori continued his comeback from right wrist surgery with a 7-5, 6-3 opening match win over American wildcard Noah Rubin.
"He started very well, very aggressive. Serving well," Nishikori said. "I think he played a little better than me in the first set. Second set I was playing a little better, a little more aggressive."
The 28-year-old Nishikori has now won six matches in a row and will next face Russian Evgeny Donsov who defeated Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos 7-5, 6-1.
Spaniard Adrian Menendez-Maceiras saved five match points to beat seventh seed Steve Johnson 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (9/7).