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Top 10 instances of tennis players getting disqualified for on-court misconduct

Published at :March 30, 2024 at 9:44 PM
Modified at :April 6, 2024 at 9:26 PM
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(Courtesy : BNN Breaking/Tennis Head)

Rizu Shukla

These are the players to be eliminated from tennis court for their unsportsmanlike conduct.

Andrey Rublev, the world’s fifth-ranked tennis player, who was in the news recently faced a shocking disqualification from the Dubai Tennis Championships for his rude behavior towards a line umpire. The incident occurred in the semifinals of the Dubai Open, when the Russian star lost his temper and hurled abusive words at the official, who had made a wrong call on a close shot. The Russian-speaking umpire reported Rublev’s foul language to Roland Herfel, the ATP supervisor, who decided to end the match and award the victory to Alexander Bublik, Rublev’s opponent in the semifinal.

However, Rublev denied using any profanity and claimed he was speaking in English. His disqualification cost him the chance to win the title and the ranking points and prize money he had earned at the tournament. This news has sparked a lot of reactions on the internet, as it is not the first time that a tennis player has been disqualified for on-court misconduct.

On that note, let us take a look at some of the previous cases where players faced similar consequences for their actions.

Novak Djokovic at the US Open 2020

The world’s No. 1 player, Novak Djokovic, who was eyeing his 18th Grand Slam title, was booted out of the competition when he unintentionally struck a line judge in the throat with a ball smashed in rage during a 6-5 first-set loss to Pablo Carreno Busta, his opponent from the fourth round. It was one of the most dramatic defaults in Open Era history, and the Serbian’s quest for the 18th major was over.

After a lengthy debate between the tournament referee Soeren Friemel, the chair umpire, and the Serbian superstar, the Spaniard was awarded the match by default.

Denis Shapovalov at the 2017 Davis Cup

The singles match ended in a bizarre way when Canadian Denis Shapovalov struck the umpire in the face with a ball, sending Britain into a quarterfinal Davis Cup clash against France.

As a result, Shapovalov defaulted, giving Britain’s Kyle Edmund a 6-3, 6-4, 2-1 victory after 78 minutes. Upon defaulting for unsportsmanlike conduct in the fifth rubber of the World Group first-round tie against Great Britain, the Canadian was fined US$7,000 for inadvertently hitting chair umpire Arnaud Gabas in the eye with a ball.

Nick Kyrgios at the 2019 Italian Open

After hurling a chair onto the court in a fit of fury, Nick Kyrgios was defaulted from his Italian Open second-round match in Rome. During his serve motion in the third and decisive set against Casper Ruud, the Australian was startled by people moving in the stands. He was fined for unsportsmanlike behaviour after complaining loudly to his coaching staff and the officials.

He smashed his racket onto the floor, kicked over a water bottle, and threw a chair into the centre of the court before declaring, “I’m done.”

Serena Williams at the 2009 US Open 

Serena Williams was ejected from the 2009 US Open semifinals after incurring a point penalty on her opponent’s match point. The American was up against Kim Clijsters, who won the first set and put on a great performance. At 15–30, Williams was serving to stay in the set as the Belgian took a 6–5 lead in the second.

Williams walked up to the lineswoman who had made the call, gave her a vigorous shake, and gestured, “I swear to God I’ll f*cking take the ball and shove it down your f*cking throat.” Clijsters won the match to advance to the US Open final after Williams was handed a point penalty for unsportsmanlike behaviour.

John McEnroe at the 1990 Australian Open

Tennis legend John McEnroe was once disqualified from the Australian Open following an incredible X-rated rant directed at tournament officials. After using foul language during his fourth-round match against Mikael Pernfors, McEnroe was given a match default and was later eliminated from the tournament.

McEnroe received a warning for attempting to intimidate a linesman during a contentious call in the third game of the fourth set. Then, with the score at 3-2 in the fourth set, McEnroe snapped his racket in anger, breaking it and launching into a string of obscenities. He lost a point for cursing and bouncing his racket, giving Pernfors a 4-2 lead and his serve.

Ken Farrar, the tournament official, disqualified the then No. 4 seed from the match when he committed his third match-related infraction while leading 6-1, 4-6, 7-5, and 2-4.

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Tim Henman at 1995 Wimbledon

Tim Henman and his partner Jeremy Bates were competing for the doubles title at the 1995 Wimbledon Championships. They faced Jeff Tarango and Henrik Holm in the first round, and the match went to a fourth set tie-break. Henman lost a point at the net and vented his frustration by hitting a ball out of his pocket. The ball hit a ball girl in the ear, causing her to cry. Referee Alan Mills disqualified Henman and Bates for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Stefan Koubek at the 2007 Metz Open

Stefan Koubek was playing against Sebastien Grosjean in the first round of the 2007 Metz Open. The Austrian left-hander was leading 4-2 in the third set, after losing the first set 7-5 and winning the second set. He got into an argument with the umpire over a disputed call and swore at the tournament supervisor. He was then defaulted for verbal abuse and lost the match.

David Nalbandian at the 2012 Queen’s Club

David Nalbandian was in the final of the 2012 Queen’s Club Championships, facing Marin Cilic. He won the first set 7-6 (7-3) and was trailing 3-4 in the second set. He kicked an advertising board in anger after losing a point, injuring a line judge’s shin. The line judge, Andrew McDougall, had a deep cut and bled profusely. Nalbandian was disqualified for unsportsmanlike behaviour by chair umpire Fergus Murphy and ATP supervisor Tom Barnes.

(List and details updated till 30th March, 2024)

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