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The top eight tennis meltdowns of all time with Serena Williams only at No3

John McEnroe, Goran Ivanisevic and Martina Hingis are all in our list but who takes the top spot?

Alex Broun 2018/09/09

In the wake of Serena Williams’ jaw-dropping meltdown in the US Open final against Naomi Osaka we decided to look back at some other famous meltdowns in tennis history.

Here’s our top eight tennis tantrums:

8. Goran Ivanisevic (Samsung Open, Brighton, 2000)

There have been a number of cases of players smashing so many racquets they have none left to play with. The crazy Croat, no stranger to outbursts, achieved this considerable feat in England 18 years ago in a second round match against Lee Hjung-taik of South Korea.

In his defence he did not smash them all at once – working his way through the racquets steadily during the match. After he smashed the last one, Ivanisevic explained to the tournament referee his predicament.

The official checked to make sure that was the case, and then defaulted Goran due to lack of appropriate equipment.

RATING: Two smashed racquets

7. Benoit Paire (Citi Open, Washington, 2018)

Trailing Cyprus’ Marcos Baghdatis, the Frenchman failed to convert an overhead smash and went into full meltdown mode. He smashed not one, not two but three racquets then stomped on his belongings by his chair before picking up another raccqet and bouncing it off the court.

Then, just when you thought it was all over, Paire went out of his way to retrieve the two broken racquets and casually tossed them back onto the court. He lost, of course.

RATING: Three smashed racquets

6. Martina Hingis (French Open, Paris, 1999)

The ultimate example of a player self-destructing. The 18-year-old Hingis, already with five majors under her belt, led Steffi Graf 6-4, 2-0 in the 1999 French Open final when she disputed a line call.

She then became angry when she thought the umpire checked the wrong mark. Hingis walked over to Graf’s side of the net, kept complaining and refused to play until talking to a tournament referee.

That conversation did not go well either, Hingis received a point penalty – and promptly fell apart. Graf came back with ease, winning her 22nd Grand Slam. Hingis would never win another.

RATING: Three smashed racquets

5. Marcos Baghdatis (Australian Open, Melbourne, 2012)

The Cypriot was losing his second round match to Stanislas Wawrinka in Melbourne Park when he let his frustrations get the better of him. Baghdatis sat down in his chair, covered his head with his towel and then proceeded to batter his racquet into the ground until it was a twisted pile of metal and strings.

He then calmly took out another two and did the same thing. To show his versatility, he smashed the fourth not on the side but face down – much harder to do.

Baghdatis then unwrapped his fifth racquet. The crowd waited patiently, would he smash this one as well. Perhaps it was his last because he left it intact and went on to lose the match.

RATING: Four smashed racquets

4. John McEnroe vs Jimmy Connors (exhibition match, Illinois, 1982)

One of the few times when players had to be physically parted on the court. McEnroe was up to his usual dramatics and the older, more experienced Connors had had enough.

He leapt over the net and went to confront McEnroe. “The boxing gloves are going to start coming out, I’m afraid,” he began. McEnroe doesn’t back down and as Connors gets up in his face with a waggling finger McEnroe pushes him away. Connors won the exhibition match in five sets. Exhibition? Imagine if it was for real.

RATING: Four smashed racquets

3. Serena Williams (US Open, Flushing Meadows, 2018)

Trailing in the second set against Naomi Osaka in this year’s US Open final, Williams receives a code-violation for getting coaching from her box. She then smashes a racquet after losing another point which results in a point penalty.

Cue full on meltdown. Williams launches a tirade against the umpire, Carlos Ramos, whom she brands him a “thief.” This is termed verbal abuse and she receives a rare game penalty. Osaka goes on to win but amidst all the drama that becomes secondary.

RATING: Four smashed racquets

2. John McEnroe (Swedish Open, Stockholm, 1984)

McEnroe’s most famous meltdown, made even worse by the fact that it was in the austere locale of Sweden. The world No1 was down one set to Swede Anders Jarryd when he didn’t like a line call.

He approached the chair umpire, Dr. Leif Ake Nilsson, another Swede and bellowed: “No mistakes so far in this match, right?” Nilsson did not reply so McEnroe uttered the famous line: “Answer the question. The question, jerk.”

Despite the outburst, or perhaps because of it, McEnroe went on to win the match and the tournament.

RATING: Five smashed racquets

1. Jeff Tarango (Wimbledon, London, 1995)

The American already had a McEnroe-like reputation and he only enhanced that with this petulant display. After a disputed ace call, Tarango told fans to “shut up”, acted mock disbelief when he was then given a warning, abused the chair umpire leading to another warning and then quit – walking off the court in protest.

He became the first player to do so in a major tournament. The drama wasn’t over – his wife, Bernadette, then crashed the press conference to announce she’d slapped the umpire – twice. Tarango, not surprisingly, was banned from Wimbledon in 1996.

RATING: Five smashed racquets

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Related Tags
Goran Ivanisevic Jimmy Connors John McEnroe Marcos Baghdatis Martina Hingis Serena Williams