With Wimbledon fortnight just round the corner, Azimo serves up seven unforgettable tennis tantrums.
1. John McEnroe loses his rag, 1981
John McEnroe may have mellowed out a bit these days. But back in the 1980s ‘Superbrat’ was the wild man of tennis, with his on-court tantrums rivalling his silky skills at times. One of his most famous outbursts was at Wimbledon in 1981, when his ‘You cannot be serious! You guys are the absolute pits of the world!’ rant at umpire Edward James went down in tantrum legend. The phrase was later featured in a Top 20 single and became the title of his autobiography.
2. Jeff Tarango storms off mid-match, 1995
Wimbledon 1995 was a tournament of terrific tantrums. After Tim Henman and Jeremy Bates had been disqualified (see no.7), American Jeff Tarango made the TV highlights show when he took his frustration to another level by storming off during his third-round match against Alexander Mronz of Germany. Having told the umpire, Bruno Rebeuh, that he was ‘the most corrupt official in the game’, Tarango left the court and forfeited the match. Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t asked back to the All England Club the following year.
3. David Nalbandian draws blood, 2012
The pre-Wimbledon grass court tournament at London’s Queen’s Club is usually a terribly civilised affair. But Argentinian David Nalbandian spiced things up a bit during the final against Marin Cilic in June 2012. Having dropped his serve in the second set, Nalbandian lashed out at an advertising hoarding in fury. But the hoarding connected with a linesman’s leg, opening up a bloody gash. Nalbandian was immediately chucked out of the competition, leaving Cilic to claim the honours.
4. Greg Rusedski turns the air blue, 2003
Greg Rusedski, the Canadian-born British No.2, was forever in the shadow of homegrown hero Tim Henman – although he did make it to a Grand Slam Final, which is more than Tim ever managed. His lowest point came at Wimbledon in 2003. During a match against Andy Roddick, he lost his Canadian cool when a crowd call of ‘out’ confused him. ‘F**king ridiculous. Some w***er in the crowd changes the whole match and you allow it to happen. Well done, well done, well done. Absolutely s**t.’ He was fined £1,500 for the outburst and went on to lose the match.
5. Goran Ivanisevic runs out of rackets, 2000
The big-serving Croat was well known for having an equally big temper on court, and was no stranger to smashing his racket in frustration. But at the Samsung Open tournament in Brighton, he took things a little bit too far. He broke all three of the rackets he’d brought along with him in a wild moment of madness and was forced to quit mid-match, thanks to what tournament supervisor Gerry Armstrong amusingly referred to as a ‘lack of appropriate equipment’.
6. Mikhail Youzhny beats himself up, 2008
It’s one thing smashing your racket on the ground in a rage, but smashing it over your own head is just plain daft. But that didn’t stop Russian Mikhail Youzhny whacking himself three times in succession after a poor shot during his match against Nicolas Almagro at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. It was hard enough to draw blood and a doctor was called to patch the player up. Youzhny must have knocked some sense into himself, though, as he went on to win the match.
7. Tim Henman takes out a ball girl, 1995
Every year, Tim Henman bowled over his female fan club on Henman Hill with another heroic but ultimately failed Wimbledon charge for glory. But in 1995, he literally bowled over Caroline Hall when he hit a 92mph ball in anger and accidentally took out the 16-year-old ball girl during a doubles match. Fortunately, no lasting damage was done and Tiger Tim apologised with a bunch of flowers the following day, although he and partner Jeremy Bates did become the first players to be disqualified at Wimbledon during the Open era.