Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Blame, upset and match: When tennis players have a tantrum

Marcos Baghdatis
Marcos Baghdatis smashed four rackets during his defeat in the second round of the Australian Open.
Andy Roddick
At the 2010 US Open, Andy Roddick was unsatisfied with a lineswoman's explanation of a foot fault and kicked up quite a racket by going on a petulant rant, arguing at length with the official. It was not the first time that the former US Open champion has lost it on the tennis court. Earlier in the year at the Australian Open, he tripped over the foot of a line judge during his first round match and tumbled to the ground. He then stood and reproached the judge: "Move out of the way when you see a player coming." And he wasn't finished there. In his second round match he berated a chair umpire with a stream of expletives after he was angered over how a line-call was dealt with. He then stomped off without shaking the umpire's hand.
John McEnroe
Now one of the most informed and interesting analysts working in the game. He's come some way from the petulant, snotty nosed kid that arrived on the scene in the late 70s. Throughout his tennis career McEnroe spent most of his time berating officials - and the people loved him for it. His most notorious outburst came at the 1981 Wimbledon Championships when he yelped: "you cannot be serious". During that tournament he also called umpire Ted James "the pits of the world" and swore at referee Fred Hoyles.
Jeff Tarango
Not exactly a household name but his (and his wife's) outburst at Wimbledon is well worth recounting. During a match at the 1995 Championships, Tarango grew frustrates with the umpire, Bruno Rebeuch, after a number of decisions went against him. When the crowd began to heckle, Terango ordered them to "shut up". Rebuch cited him on a code of violation for obscenity which Tarango didn't take to too kindly - he refused to play on. Despite the umpire ordering him to continue, the American packed up his rackets and left the court. Most thought he had made his point - but not his wife. She slapped Rebuch twice in the face just to make sure and defended herself later when she explained: "If Jeff had done it, he would have been put out of tennis."
Jimmy Connors
One of the tennis superstars of the 70s and a player with a flair for vulgarity. The American would often strut around with his racket between his legs, yank it out then look chuffed with himself at the innuendo he had made. Fans either loved him or hated him for it. But when it came to the officials - they simply hated him. When calls didn't go his way, Connors was quick to brandish one finger salutes. And the American is well remembered for arguing incessantly with just about anyone - umpires, referees, player union officials, and other tennis players.
Serena Williams
The not so serene Serena Williams let rip during 2009's US Open when she was called for a foot fault. The furious Williams bared down on the female line judge who made the call and told her: "If I could, I would take this ******* ball and shove it down your ******* throat". The lineswoman reported her to the umpire, who in turn called the tournament referee and it was decided they would dock Williams a point. As it happened on match-point, it saw Serena knocked out of the tournament in what was an ugly end to the semi-final match.
Mikhail Youzhny
To the relief of the tennis officials, Mikhail Youzhny took out his anger not on them, but on himself. A long rally in his match against Nicolas Almagro at the 2008 Sony Ericsson Open came to an end when Youzhny hit into the net. Furious with himself, the Russian preceded to smash his racket into his head. With blood pouring from his temple, the match commentator declared: "It's almost Van Gogh like".
Greg Rusedski
The crowd can get a bit excitable at Wimbledon and on this occasion they went too far for Greg Rusedski's liking, making it difficult for him to concentrate on the match. Rusedski made his point to the umpire (not before he slammed his racket down in a full blown tantrum) declaring: "I mean, I can't do anything if the crowd ******* call it. ******* ridiculous. Some ****** in the crowd changed the whole match". Luckily the BBC had installed their little cameras in the umpire's chair so audiences at home were able to see and hear the whole outburst in close up.
Robert Seguso
In a David Cup doubles match that no-one cared about, Seguso unwittingly produced a memorable scene on court that made it appear as if the biggest umpire of all was taking note of his outbursts. After smashing the ball into the net, Seguso shouted: "Don't do that. God!" Seconds later a loud crack of thunder rumbled out from the heavens above.
Tim Henman
Tiger Tim had the cheek to raise expectations during every Wimbledon tournament, only to let us all down year after year. As much as the public willed him on he could never quite do it - but in fairness - it did make for some great entertainment and his travails became a fixture of the English summer. But in 1995 he didn't get the chance to put us through an ultimately unsuccessful five-set thriller as he was banned from the tournament all together. The usually dreary and apologetic Henman showed the true Tiger within when after a botched play he smashed a ball at a volunteer ball girl. He's pictured here making a public apology.
Marat Safin
Technically this isn't one tantrum but this list wouldn't be complete without the inclusion of Marat Safin. It's alleged that the Croat smashed 48 rackets during the 1999 season and in 2005 he estimated he has broken over 300 during his career. At least Safin had the sense to keep enough spares, unlike Goran Ivanisevic. Playing at an ATP tournament in Brighton in 2000, the Croat worked his way through his full supply of rackets, smashing the lot in outrage at his misfortune, the umpiring calls and life in general. As his final racket disintegrated into an expensive pile of titanium dust, Ivanisevic said: "I have nothing left to play with" and wandered off the court.
Martina Hingis and Serena Williams
Serena makes it onto the list for a second time, although during this outburst she was a little more subtle and it contained a little less shouting. When Martina Hingis (right) suggested Serena's dad was something of a big-mouth, Williams responded: "She's always the kind of person who says things and speaks her mind and I guess that has a little bit to do with not having a formal education." Hingis replied: "I don't think I'm that dumb - I'd like to see some other people talking in three languages." Miaow.
Anna Kournikova
It's fair to say Anna Kournikova's celebrity was not built on her tennis ability. Despite never reaching the heights of the game, her beauty saw her become a favourite among (mostly male) fans on the circuit. So when she lost in the first round of Wimbledon in 2002, the BBC thought it was not unreasonable to ask in a post match interview whether she should consider playing some lower-tier tournaments. But Kournikova took offence, saying "I just don't think you should phrase the question that way," she snapped. She then stood up, and asked that the taped segment start over. The BBC later aired the entire session.

Marcos Baghdatis shocked the Melbourne crowd at the Australian Open this week and in the process became a big hit on YouTube thanks to his furious display of rage.

In a spell of 30 seconds, the 26-year-old Cypriot smashed not one, not two, not three but four rackets. It appeared to temporarily turn around his fortunes before he succumbed to defeat over four sets against Stanislas Wawrinka on Margaret Court Arena.

Baghdatis is by no means the first tennis player to lose his cool - here, we take a look at some memorable tennis tantrums.

Independent

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