WATCH: Agonising default in Shanghai as ball smashes into umpire at high speed

Kevin Palmer
Marc Polmans
Marc Polmans defaulted in Shanghai

When you are on the brink of victory, don’t lose your temper and smash a ball in the wrong direction.

That’s a lesson South African-born Australian player Marc Polmans learned as he missed out on a chance to play in the main draw of the ATP 1000 event in Shanghai after a dramatic twist at the end of his match against Italy’s Stefano Napolitano.

Polmans had navigated his way to match point in a contest that was so important for both players as they chased vital ranking points and the big prize money on offer for one of the ATP’s marquee tournaments.

Yet as he missed a volley at the net on match point, Polmans lost his cool and took a wild swing at the ball in anger.

Sadly, his out-of-control swipe had desperate consequences as he smashed the ball at the chair umpire and was given an instant default.

The incident meant Napolitano will now enter the main draw at Shanghai and will be guaranteed $18,660 even if he lost in the first round.


Polmans joins a long list of players who have been disqualified from tennis tournaments, with some surprise names in this list:

Novak Djokovic – 2020 US Open

With no fans in the Arthur Ashe Stadium due to the Covid pandemic, Djokovic managed to hit one of the few people present when he hit a ball that hit in a line judge in the throat during his match with Pablo Carreno Busta.

The tournament favourite tried to argue his case in heated discussions on court, but this was a clear case for a default and the Serbian was informed the match was over and he was denied a chance to add to his Grand Slam collection.

Denis Shapovalov – 2017 Davis Cup

Letting your country down is even more devastating than a personal mistake and that was the story for Shapovalov in a 2017 Davis Cup tie against Great Britain.

Shapovalov was losing 6-3, 6-4 and led 2-1 in the third set against Kyle Edmund when he smashed a ball in anger and hit the chair umpire in the eye. It was an instant default.

David Nalbandian – Queen’s Club final 2012

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.

Stefan Koubek – 2000 French Open

Austrian Koubek sealed his place in the second round of the tournament by beating Spaniard Galo Blanco in four sets and then had a big chance to progress against Hungarian qualifier Attila Savolt.

After winning the opening set, Savolt struck back and was leading by two sets to one when Koubek threw his racquet and hit a ball boy. The Austrian had already received three prior violations and he was given a direct disqualification.

Tim Henman – 1995 Wimbledon

Henman is one of the nice guys in tennis, but he hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons during his doubles match with Jeremy Bates at the 1995 Wimbledon Championships.

The pair were up against Henrik Holm and Jeff Tarango in the first round and led by two sets to one, but Henman lost his cool and hit a ball that struck a ball girl. There was no way back for a player who would go on to be a big fans’ favourite for British fans at Wimbledon in the following years.