The BTB Awards are our look back at the best — and worst — of the tennis season. Today we examine the 10 meltdowns, tantrums and outbursts that defined the season. Can’t we all just get along?
1. David Nalbandian bloodies a linesman at Queens: Player tantrums are usually humorous outbursts that we can all sit around and laugh about the next day. This one wasn’t. Facing Marin Cilic in the final at the Queen’s Club in London, Nalbandian violently kicked an advertising board into a line umpire’s shin, drawing blood and justifiably earning a disqualification. He added to the awkwardness by railing against the ATP in his postmatch interview.
“Sometimes we feel so much pressure from the ATP trying to play so many tournaments,” Nalbandian told the crowd, which began to boo. “No, no, no, hear this one. In wet conditions and ATP doesn’t do anything to us. Today I do a mistake and I have to play like that. I agree I do a mistake, but everybody do a mistake.
“There is a lot of rules, and sometimes [ATP] don’t do anything. The rule book is very big. And I can tell you that ATP do a lot of mistakes, a lot of mistakes to the players and nothing happens. So that’s why players disagree to ATP.”
Nalbandian was fined the maximum $12,650 (and stripped of his $57,350 in prize money) for the incident, which led to a police investigation for assault.
2. Bernard Tomic takes it out on the turf: It was a problematic year for the young Aussie. Under pressure to defend his 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinal appearance, he cracked. And so did his racket. He lost in the first round to David Goffin and was booed off the court after smashing his racket repeatedly, causing damage that the Wimbledon grounds crew had to scramble to repair. He was fined $2,500 and got a rare talking-to from Wimbledon officials, who told the 19-year-old that type of behavior would not be tolerated at the All England Club.
3. Elena Vesnina and Sania Mirza stand up to injustice: In the women’s doubles quarterfinals at a testy Australian Open (more on that below), Vesnina and Mirza went ballistic after the umpire failed to rule on a clear double-bounce on match point. As Mirza glared at Liezel Huber — who claimed she didn’t see the double-bounce — Vesnina railed against the umpire, Carlos Ramos. “Are you kidding me?” Vesnina said. “Carlos, it was two bounce! What happen with the umpires at the Australian Open? You always want to get into fights with the players. It’s unbelievable what you’re doing.”
A few points later, Mirza rifled a forehand right at Huber that left the American on the ground. Mirza and Vesnina went on to finally convert on match point.
“We won that match, like, twice,” Mirza told her partner as they walked off court. Vesnina responded, “No, we won it three times.”
4. Marcos Baghdatis destroys four rackets in four minutes: Maybe it’s the Australian heat, the excitement or the inherent crankiness from coming within a few feet of Vegemite every year, but the Australian Open yielded more memorable outbursts than any other tournament. Here’s crowd favorite Baghdatis destroying four rackets on a changeover with eerie calmness. The eruption worked for a bit. He came back to take the third set before losing to Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6 (3), 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 in the second round.
5. Bernard Tomic has daddy issues in Miami: Poor Tomic is a repeat offender on this list. This was one of the more bizarre tantrums of the season. During his loss to David Ferrer, Tomic was so put off by his father-coach John’s negativity that he actually asked chair umpire Cedric Mourier if he could have him removed from the stadium.
6. Serena Williams cries during changeover: Virginie Razzano’s first-round upset of Williams at the French Open was a shock to everyone, including Serena. Razzano had just rallied from 1-5 down in the second-set tiebreaker to even the match and as Williams sat on the changeover, she began to cry. That insight into her mental and emotional fragility made her Wimbledon triumph a month later even more remarkable.
7. David Nalbandian throws water on Australian Open official: To be fair, Nalbandian was completely wronged on this call. He had just earned a break point at 8-8 in the fifth set against John Isner when Isner fired a serve down the tee that was called a fault. Chair umpire Kader Nouni overruled the call to give Isner the break-point-saving ace and then refused to let Nalbandian challenge because he took too long to ask for it. Really? You make that call at 8-8 in the fifth set? Nalbandian understandably lost his cool and called the supervisor, causing a long delay.
But the real news out of this blowup was what didn’t get captured by the cameras. After losing 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 10-8, Nalbandian reportedly threw water on an Australian Open staff member, incurring an $8,000 fine.
8. Victoria Azarenka’s Olympic fit: Ah, the Olympic spirit. After rolling through the first set of her opening-round match against Romania’s Irina Camelia Begu, Azarenka was down a break in the second. On break point, Begu served a ball that Azarenka got her racket on, but it was called long. Begu challenged, and the serve was ruled in. Umpire Julie Kjendlie made the right call, giving the point to Begu, as the linesman’s out call didn’t affect Azarenka’s return.
Azarenka disagreed. Vehemently. And she got the rule wrong, to boot. “No way,” she said. “I touched the ball. You cannot do that. I touched the ball, I hit the ball, he calls it out. What are you talking about?
“What the hell are you talking about? Do you knows the rules or no? It’s not your first time. You always mess up. Can you frickin’ learn a little bit?”
9. Caroline Wozniacki loses it at the French Open: Wozniacki was getting absolutely shellacked by Kaia Kanepi in the third round when she stopped play for a ball she thought was out. The umpire misread the mark — NBC replays showed it was clearly out — and Sunshine went about as bonkers as the affable Dane could. “The ball is clearly out. You can’t just sit there and be so arrogant,” she said, chastising the umpire. “If we had Hawk-Eye, you would be so frickin’ embarassed.” Wozniacki kept it going for more than four minutes, calling out the supervisor and even questioning the umpire’s education level. Which was kinda funny.
10. Roger Federer tells French fans to “SHUT UP!”: Let’s face it, if Roger Federer just flicks his hair wrong during a match, it’s news. So when he got angry at the crowd for calling out in the middle of a rally during his French Open quarterfinal match against Juan Martin del Potro, it went viral. Though let’s be honest: Who hasn’t wanted to yell “SHUT UP!” at the French Open crowd?
Did we miss one of your favorite outbursts from the season? Let us know in the comments.