Officials investigating an ugly incident on court 18.

Wimbledon officials have begun their investigation into the incident in which Romanian Victor Hanescu apparently spat at the crowd before quitting his third-round men’s singles match.

The 28-year-old from Bucharest had won the opening two sets on tie-breaks and had match points in the third. But a tie-break went against him and his German opponent Daniel Brands then levelled the Court 18 match by taking the fourth set 6-3.

Hanescu fell behind in the deciding set before the apparent spitting incident amid suggestions that he had been heckled by spectators.

He then appeared to deliberately foot-fault and double-fault before retiring from the match, citing a leg injury for which he received treatment at court-side during the match.

Four spectators were arrested on Court 18 but it is not known whether the incidents were linked.

In a statement, Championships referee Andrew Jarrett said: “Victor Hanescu retired from the match due to a leg injury. The referee’s office is reviewing further information from this match.”

Jarrett began his investigation this morning but there is unlikely to be a swift conclusion.

Hanescu, who was given a seeding when Ivo Karlovic withdrew on the eve of the event, is not playing in the men’s or mixed doubles and left the Championships immediately after ending his singles match.

“We have started the process of looking into exactly what happened,” said a spokesman for the All England Club.

“The umpire issued a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct that covers things like spitting and swearing.

“The referee will be talking to the umpire and anyone else who can shed light on the incident.

“The umpire’s report will obviously be considered along with any other witnesses that we have from our side and then the referee will obviously look at those and any other footage he’s got available to him with his colleagues.”

A spokesman for the Association of Tennis Professionals, who run the men’s game, said there would be no comment from the organisation until after grand slam supervisors and referees complete their investigation.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said four men were being questioned under the Public Order Act after Hanescu had complained to officers.

The spokeswoman said: “Police were called to Court 18 following a disturbance.

“Four youths were arrested. They have all been taken to a south London station under Section 5 of the Public Order Act.”

Hanescu could face severe punishment from tournament officials.

A standard offence of unsportsmanlike conduct carries a maximum fine of 10,000 US dollars (£6,600).

Under grand slam rules, any act deemed to be “flagrant and particularly injurious to the success of a tournament” can be judged as a “major offence of aggravated behaviour”.

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