Top 10 tennis scandals: from choking an opponent to match-fixing

Shahida Jacobs

Tennis may not have ball-tampering scandals, but the sport does have a few moments of shame.

We look at the top 10 scandals to rock the world of tennis, including several failed dope tests and match-fixing.

10. Stefan Koubek choking incident
Choking is something you expect to see in the WWE ring, not a tennis match. But that is what fans saw in 2010 as Stefan Koubek reacted to a comment made by his opponent Daniel Koellerer during an Austrian league match.

At the changeover, the Austrian tennis player couldn’t hold in his anger and choked Koellerer, who was sitting in his chair.

Quite obviously, Koubek was immediately disqualified from the match and rather surprisingly his fellow countryman was booed off court.

“I’m man enough not to let myself be insulted, especially not by him,” Koubek later told the Austrian Times.

9. Dan Evans positive drugs test
The British tennis player started 2017 in encouraging fashion, beating Marin Cilic in the second round of the Australian Open.

However, his career took an instant dive as he tested positive for cocaine in April 2017. Evans claimed he took the substance out of competition, however had put the drug in a washbag with his medication, therefore contaminating it and testing positive during competition.

The 27-year-old was handed a one-year ban and is likely to return to tennis in mid-2018.

8. Serena and Venus Williams booed at Indian Wells
Now this isn’t a scandal as such, but a severe speculation that caused some alarm in the tennis world.

In 2001, as Venus and Serena Williams both began their surge up the WTA rankings, they were always going to meet in tournaments at some point.

Questions were asked whether the sisters’ father, Richard, decided who wins the matches. These allegations arose again when Venus withdrew from her Indian Wells semi-final match against Serena just minutes before they were due on court.

Serena advanced to the final, but the fans booed her when she arrived on court and also booed Venus and Richard when they made their way to the seats.

Serena won the final against Kim Clijsters, but both Williams sisters boycotted the tournament for 14 years.

7. Nikolay Davydenko match-fixing scandal

The Russian was a household name on ATP Tour during his career, but never truly reached his potential.

Controversy hit in August 2007 when over $1.5m was bet on Davydenko losing his match to Martín Vassallo Argüello in Sopot, Poland, despite the Russian taking the first set 6-2. Davydenko then retired in the third set with an injury.

The stake was reported and the ATP launched a year-long investigation. The two-time US Open semi-finalist was eventually cleared of the allegations.

6. Andre Agassi drug abuse
The American was world No 1 just two years before, but in 1997 his career took a blow.

Injury restricted his game time and a failed a drugs test made it a poor year for Agassi. The eight-time Grand Slam champion wrote a letter to the ATP claiming a friend had spiked his drink and managed to get off with a warning.

However, years after retiring he admitted in his autobiography to taking crystal meth and faking the letter. Disgracing his name, but getting away with it when it mattered.

5. Maria Sharapova failed dope test

Yet another drugs scandal, yet another player at the top of the game.

This time it was Maria Sharapova who failed a drugs test for a banned substance, which increased stamina and endurance.

The five-time Grand Slam winner had been taking the drug for over 10 years and was given a two-year ban from tennis. This was reduced to 15 months and now she is back on Tour.

4. Monica Seles stabbing incident
The Yugoslav-born player was at the top of her game in 1993 and had become the youngest-ever French Open champion just three years earlier.

However, things took a dark turn at a quarter-final match in Hamburg when a deranged Steffi Graf fan made it onto the court and stabbed her in the back with a knife.

Seles only returned to professional tennis more than two years later as she struggled with post-traumatic stress and only claimed one more Grand Slam title at the 1996 Australian Open.

3. Jennifer Capriati misdemeanours

The three-time Grand Slam champion faced several struggles over her career.

After winning an Olympic gold medal in 1992 and several other WTA tournaments as a teenager, things headed south in 1994 when she was charged with a misdemeanour for marijuana possession.

She returned to action in 1996 and went on to win three major titles and reach the top of the women’s rankings in 2001, but nine years later she required treatment for a drug overdose.

This was followed by being charged with battery and stalking of her former boyfriend in 2013, although these charges were eventually dropped.

2. Martina Hingis failed drugs test
This drug scandal involved cocaine once again, as well as a tennis star at the top of the game.

In 2007, she announced her second retirement, after the banned substance was found in a drug test after Wimbledon. The WTA handed the Swiss a two-year ban, but in 2010 she decided to return to the Tour.

However to add further scandal, her estranged husband accused her of being a serial adulterer.

Hingis was quite successful in the doubles when she made a comeback, winning 11 Grand Slams, but she finally hanged up her tennis racquet for good at the end of 2017.

1. Daniel Koellerer match-fixing scandal

Probably one of the least well-known names on the list, yet found guilty of one of the biggest scandals.

The Austrian had a career-high ranking of 55 in 2009, yet is now banned for life from playing professional tennis for match-fixing.

In 2011, Koellerer was the first person to receive a life ban from Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) and he was also handed a $100,000 fine for his actions.

During his professional career that spanned 11 years, the now 34-year-old received just over $750,000 in prize money yet admitted he used his personal website to facilitate betting on matches as well as match-fixing.

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