Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Top Five Craziest Meltdowns in Tennis
There are moments in sports when a player's threshold is broken — an instance of overwhelming rage which envelops and enfolds a player's judgement when performing on the big stage.
Tennis is the perfect platform for outbursts of anger and with an indistinct eeriness on the court, players have a stage set for short-fused bursts to be witnessed by onlooking spectators. Tennis is considered by many to be a dignified sport — it is the epitome of middle class — strawberries and cream vendors can bask in the influx of trade — Pimm's jugs are flowing at Wimbledon and the tradition of all-white is in full swing, but in the shadows lurk tantrums from some of the sport's leading figures. Here are five of the most notable players showcasing their tennis meltdowns on court.
5. Rodger Federer, Miami Open, 2009
This man is the embodiment of composure, a tennis titan carrying a loaded barrel of equilibrium. Unparalleled on the collectiveness stage, but even a man with his imperturbable demeanor can have his cage rattled from time to time.
Miami, 2009, the Swiss had his feathers ruffled as his temper burned bright following a string of forehand errors against fellow champion Novak Djokovic. Federer's racquet took the brunt of his anger, when he dealt a few final blows to it before it shattered. Federer fell to a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 defeat and refused a hand shake with the umpire after the game.
The game created its own unique ironies — the timing of his outbursts was not ideal, which the Swiss advertised only a week after his fellow players voted him for the Stefan Edberg Award for Sportsmanship, for a record fifth time. This was Federer's first blockbuster showdown with a racquet, and it provided the fans with a glimpse that the Swiss is by no means immune to the human trait of anger.
4. Nick Kyrgios, Cincinnati Masters, 2019
Nick Kyrgios is one of tennis' most enigmatic figures. The Australian has been praised for being one of the biggest, upcoming prospects in the game and believed by some as a top-three toppler. But for all the 24-year-old's natural aptitude comes a heavy price — he is prone to temper-tantrums and some that have been so extreme that he has called out umpires, fans, and even opponents.
Kyrgios has admitted that he is not in love with the game and openly states that he doesn't work as hard as his peers. Yet, the Australian is ranked 27th in the world and has gone toe-to-toe with the very best in the sport.
Cincinnati was a turning point for the young player's rage, when a feud erupted between Kyrgios and umpire Fergus Murphy. The explosive outing at the Cincinnati Masters left the Australian player $167,000 AU lighter after a barrage of incidents.
Kyrgios' glimmer of rage found a new-high in the second set when he continued to argue with Murphy, and broke two racquets after a bathroom break he took that the umpire refused him. The game concluded with a fired-up Kyrgios swearing at the umpire before spitting in his general direction. In the contrast to the erratic Australian, Karen Khachanov maintained composure and served out a win over the emotionally-charged Kyrgios.
3. Andy Roddick, Australian Open, 2008
The Australian Open is an incubator for personal vendettas, rowdy Australian crowds, and the odd malignant meltdown once in a while. Roddick, a gifted pundit these days, sharp of tongue and a quick-witted by nature, takes the bronze in the meltdown awards. When Roddick first broke through in 2003, he inherited the American poster-boy façade — and was the youngest American to claim the No. 1 seed.
But by 2008, Roddick's tennis was coming apart at the seam. Stranded on the one prestigious Grand Slam — the previous year had been an injury plagued affair and the American was preparing for a more hopeful Australian Open. Unfortunately, it was not to be when Roddick personally attacked an umpire while playing out a game that dragged on into the early hours of the morning.
The evening had been frustrating for Roddick as he left the Rod Larver arena after 2 AM — with his tail between his legs after 29th seed Phillip Kohlschreiber had dispatched him despite his 42-record ace game. Umpire Emmanuel Joseph was on the end of a tongue-lashing from Roddick, with the American shouting, "I mean, seriously, do you have to be a second-grade dropout to be an umpire? Did you go to school until you were 8-years-old? I think you quit school before you were 10. Stay in school, kids, or you'll end up an umpire!"
2. David Nalbandian, Queen's Club, 2012
The 37-year-old Argentinian is no stranger to controversy on and off the court. Australia 2012 he was accused of throwing water over a doctor during a post-match drugs test — in his younger years, he was disqualified from Wimbledon for turning up late. However, his incident at the prestigious Queen's club tops them all.
Queens 2012, Nalbandian was playing some sensational tennis after securing the first set on a tie-break, but after dropping serve in the second set, he succumbed to frustration and anger. The boiling point was near, and eventually after missing a forehand the Argentinian's foot went through an advertising board. But his anger turned to blood-rage as his foot followed through taking a chunk out of a linesman's leg. Nalbandian's realization surfaced early as he watched the linesman recoil in pain, the blood gushing from his leg.
Immediately defaulted by the umpire, Nalbandian walked off apologizing — fully-aware of his embarrassing antics he had caused and accepted the actions of the umpire. Being defaulted was a huge disappointment for the Argentine but by no means a surprise to the observing fans.
1. John McEnroe, Australian Open, 1990
McEnroe, a player renowned throughout tennis as being the original bad-boy of racquet sports. The American is infamous for his tantrums on court. John McEnroe was always going to be the player at the No. 1 spot for outbursts and this is why he takes the meltdown crown.
A left-handed server and volleyer with a masterful touch, McEnroe dominated tennis in the early '80s, winning three times at Wimbledon and four U.S. Opens and finished on an impressive 17 Grand Slam titles. McEnroe had an overwhelming number of tennis eruptions during his 26-year professional career, but the 1990 Australian Open incident puts all the others to shame.
McEnroe made a late career-trip to the Melbourne major in the hope of adding to his Grand Slam supremacy, but it was not to be when the American lost all composure and was the first player to ever be defaulted from a Grand Slam in the new Open Era.
McEnroe was up against Sweden's Mikael Pernfors in the fourth round of the Australian Open. McEnroe secured the first set with little resistance, but the Swede found his stride and won the second with both players playing some emphatic tennis. After both players traded service in the third set, McEnroe was ahead just one game until his on-court shenanigans begun.
During the changeover, the American stopped an unsuspecting lineswoman he was convinced made an incorrect call and started to intimidate her by glaring at her while bouncing a ball on his racquet — his number one violation. Considerable trouble continued in the fourth with a few unforced errors which prompted McEnroe to smash his racquet on the court's hard surface, which the umpire handed him another two violations before finally ejecting him for continuous complaints and swearing.
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