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David Ferrer shoves line judge at Australian Open; Mixed tennis league for Asia

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MELBOURNE, Australia - It was a tense moment, according to David Ferrer. That's why he shoved the line judge.

"It was nothing," the No. 3-ranked Ferrer said.

The incident occurred during Ferrer's quarterfinal loss to Thomas Berdych at the Australian Open on Tuesday. The Spaniard was two sets down and had just broken Berdych in the third set to take a 4-2 lead.

Ferrer wiped his face with a towel and wanted to toss it in a courtside chair, but a line judge was in the way. So he pushed him, causing the man to stumble a few steps to the side. A reaction from the crowd prompted Ferrer to shrug his shoulders as he walked to the service line.

"It was a nervous moment, but nothing," Ferrer said, after losing the match 6-1, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. "I said, 'Excuse me,' to him after that. Nothing special."

It wasn't the first time Ferrer has drawn criticism for pushing a line judge. A similar incident happened during a 2012 U.S. Open match against Lleyton Hewitt.

In 2011, Ferrer got annoyed when a baby was crying in the stands during his quarterfinal match at the Sony Ericsson Open. After losing his serve, he hit a forehand lob in the direction of the crying infant, though the ball didn't come close.

A two-time semifinalist in Melbourne, Ferrer said he doubted he would be penalized for the shove.

The 2014 Grand Slam Rule states that "players shall not at any time physically abuse any official, opponent, spectator or other person within the precincts of the tournament site. Violators can face a fine of up to $20,000.

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NEW TENNIS LEAGUE: A lucrative new mixed teams tennis league is coming to Asia to help grow the sport in some of the region's most financially booming, tennis-crazed markets.

The International Premier Tennis League, co-founded by Boris Becker, will hold its inaugural season during the off-season for the ATP and WTA tours from late November to late December, organizers said Tuesday at the Australian Open.

The structure of the league will be similar to the World TeamTennis league held every July in the United States, which has attracted players like the Williams sisters, Martina Navratilova, Andy Roddick and John McEnroe over the years.

The IPTL will have five teams initially based in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Bangkok and a Middle Eastern city yet to be determined, with the goal of expanding the league to 10 teams by 2020.

Each team will include a mix of current professional men's and women's players, as well as retired players, and will have a $10 million salary cap. A draft will be held on March 2 in Dubai to set the teams.

"I'd say the majority will be known players," said Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt, who said he'll be among those playing this year. "They're the players that people want to go out and see obviously."

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Associated Press Writer Justin Bergman contributed to this report.

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