Worsley at the Aussie Open: Racquets bear brunt of player tantrums

  • 22/01/2019

OPINION: Obliterate.

It's such a cool word and it's exactly what German fourth seed Alexander Zverev did to his racquet in his loss to Milos Raonic in the fourth round at the Aussie Open.

He 'obliterated' his weapon on choice.

Unfortunately for Zverev, he didn't use his racquet for much good in the match, apart from trying to put a dent in both the court and the racquet. He was promptly beaten in straight sets by Canadian Raonic.

In his media conference after the loss, Zverev admitted he felt a sense of achievement in that he made himself feel superior by bashing the racquet about nine times on the ground... to obliterate it.

"Yeah, it made me feel better. I was very angry, so I let my anger out."

A fine awaits, but then for losing in the fourth round, he'll still receive A$260,000 - so come and get me with your measly racquet-abuse fine, I can take it.

American Ryan Harrison is well known for taking his anger out on his racquet. He was also able to obliterate his Babolat brand in his second-round loss at the Australian Open.

This was not his worst effort, though. At the big Indian Wells tournament in 2017, he stamped on one racquet, snapping it, and then threw another to the ground so hard, it buckled.

He then pulled two more racquets out of his bag and broke both of them.

Seventh seed Dominic Thiem also put a fairly sizeable dent in his racquet in his second-round retirement loss to teenage Aussie Alexei Popyrin, when he claimed heat exhaustion was an issue in Melbourne. His racquet became exhausted too.

Yes, John McEnroe was the king of abuse, but his was more of the verbal type and sometimes even quite clever.

Sure, the odd racquet may have been deemed expendable, but "you cannot be serious", "answer my question, jerk” and of course "you guys are the absolute pits of the world, you know that?" - all those other phrases we'd all like to say to workmates - were more famous than racquets broken.

Even the highly respected royalty of the tennis world, Roger Federer, was very well known for smashing racquets as a young pro. He put paid to a racquet's life on the one occasion he played in Auckland in 2000 and on plenty of other courts too.

Crazy Frenchman Benoit Paire didn't quite break his racquet at the US Open once, but he almost broke his face. He threw his racquet to the ground with such force after losing a point to Federer, only to have it bounce back up and give him a bloody nose.

World number one Novak Djokovic is well into double figures of racquets served their last rites - including one on centrecourt at Wimbledon. In fact, he has a certain smashing style that is replicated each time.

Talking of style, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov showed such force in one of his tantrums that the racquet broke completely in half.

Arguably the 'best' smashing spree of all time came when popular Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis destroyed and 'obliterated' four racquets against Stan Wawrinka at the 2012 Australian Open.

What made this so notable was that two of the racquets were still wrapped in plastic. The crowd loved every blow.

Imagine you had everyone watching and the world was against you, along with the umpires and the opposition too. That's surely enough reason to smash something.

We probably won't get another like Zverev's in front of a mass TV audience, but who knows what pressure can do to a player.

As a side note, there are plenty of other players - male and female - who have smashed themselves to oblivion, the ones listed above were just a few, and Zverev's was executed with great style and panache.

By the way, is it racquet, racket or racket? Take your pick, they all get smashed.

Dave Worsley is a Newshub sports reporter, covering his 21st Australian Open.

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