T365 Recalls: Five other occasions when tennis players let frustration get the better of them

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Novak Djokovic pleading with tournament officials

Novak Djokovic is not the first top tennis star to let frustration get the better of him. Here are five more occasions on which the stresses of the sport have proved costly.

Denis Shapovalov

Fever-Tree Championships – Day One – Queen's Club
Denis Shapovalov was defaulted during his Davis Cup match against Great Britain (Steven Paston/PA)

Shapovalov said he was “incredibly ashamed and embarrassed” after he was defaulted for hitting the umpire with a ball midway through the deciding rubber of Canada’s Davis Cup clash with Great Britain in 2017.

A mishit shot on break point prompted Shapovalov’s angry volley which left umpire Arnaud Gabas with a bruised eye – and Great Britain with a place in the quarter-finals.

David Nalbandian

Tennis – AEGON Championships 2012 – Day Seven – The Queen's Club
David Nalbandian was disqualified from the final of the Aegon Championships (PA Archive)

Nalbandian was defaulted midway through the Aegon Championship final against Marin Cilic at Queen’s Club. The Argentine reacted to having his serve broken in the second set by kicking an advertising hoarding that was in front of the chair of line judge Andrew McDougall. The plywood board came off its hinges and ploughed straight in to McDougall’s shin, causing an inch-long cut.

Jeff Tarango

Jeff Tarango walked off court midway through his Wimbledon match against Alexander Mronz (PA Archive)

The American was always highly strung but at Wimbledon 1995 this reached new levels. After being annoyed by a serve being called out, Tarango told the barracking crowd to shut up.

Umpire Bruno Rebeuh issued a code violation, prompting Tarango to storm off court – defaulting the match – and accuse the official of being corrupt. Tarango’s wife Benedicte then slapped Rebeuh across the face. He was banned from Wimbledon the following year.

John McEnroe

Tennis – 1981 Wimbledon Championships – Men's Singles – Semi-Final – John McEnroe v Rod Frawley
John McEnroe launched one of sport’s famous tirades at Wimbledon (PA Archive)

Tennis’ most famous outburst was McEnroe’s use of the phrase ‘you cannot be serious’ during the 1981 Wimbledon championships. Controversy was never far from the volatile American.

In 1984 he was suspended for 21 days for exceeding a $7,500 limit put on fines that had been instigated because of his behaviour when he demanded of an umpire, “Answer the question, jerk”. McEnroe, meanwhile, was thrown out of the Australian Open in 1990 for swearing at an umpire, the tournament supervisor and referee.

Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios boasts a catalogue of tennis indiscretions (Adam Davy/PA)

The pick of the Australian’s numerous indiscretions include a fine and a suspended ban for making a slur about opponent Stan Wawrinka’s girlfriend during a Rogers Cup match in 2015; a $41,500 fine and an eight-week ban for “lack of best efforts” against Mischa Zverev in the 2016 Shanghai Masters, in which he asked the umpire to stop proceedings so he could “finish the match and go home”; and defaulting from the 2019 Italian Open after swearing at a linesperson and throwing a chair onto the court during his third-round match against Casper Ruud.

Tim Henman

Tim Henman was disqualified from Wimbledon in 1995 for hitting ballgirl Caroline Hall (Fiona Hanson/PA)

The darling of Wimbledon had an inauspicious start to his All England Club career when he was defaulted during a doubles match in 1995. In an incident similar to that of Shapovalov, the then 20-year-old, playing with Jeremy Bates,
whacked a ball in anger across the net and accidentally hit a ball girl.

Ironically, one of the beneficiaries of the default was Tarango, playing with Sweden’s Henrik Holm.

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