In tennis, racquet breakage becomes uncontrollable

After missing a golden opportunity to break his opponent’s serve late in the second set of his match at the Miami Open on Monday, rising...


After missing a golden opportunity to break his opponent’s serve late in the second set of his match at the Miami Open on Monday, rising American star Jenson Brooksby hit his foot several times with his racquet of frustration.

It was progress for Brooksby, who earlier in the tournament had escaped an automatic disqualification that many tennis veterans – and his opponent – ​​thought justified after he angrily threw his racket down the court and slipped into it. the feet of a person standing behind the ball. Baseline.

A week earlier, Nick Kyrgios, the wayward Australian, narrowly missed hitting a ballboy in the face when he threw his racquet to the ground after a three-set loss in the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California. The ATP fined Kyrgios $20,000 and an additional $5,000 for uttering an obscenity on the court, but he was cleared to play a few days later in Miami.

Kyrgios was back on Wednesday in his fourth-round match against Italian Jannik Sinner. He threw his racquet onto the court as he lost a first-set tiebreaker, prompting a warning and a penalty point for unsportsmanlike conduct as he shouted at the referee, Carlos Bernardes. Then, during the substitution, he hit his racquet against the ground four times, earning a game penalty.

“Do we have to wait for someone to start bleeding?” exasperated Patrick McEnroe, the former professional and tennis commentator said recently when asked about flying racquets.

Tantrums have long been accepted as part of the game. Like a hockey fight, they are a way for players to let off steam. But as the wider culture becomes less tolerant of public displays of anger and with an increasing number of close calls on the field, racketeering no longer seems to be an issue. entertaining idiosyncrasy.

Mary Carillo, the former player and longtime commentator, said tantrums have never been worse, especially on the ATP Tour, calling them “the most consistently uncomfortable thing to watch”, but the Chair umpires always resist meting out the most serious penalty.

“The reason for the overt leniency is that they kind of have to keep a game alive; there are no substitutions,” Carillo said of the chair umpires. “Tennis players, especially tennis stars, know they have an undeniable influence on the chair.”

Like most tennis players, McEnroe was stunned when the ATP recently handed down an eight-week suspension against Alexander Zverev, who repeatedly slapped the referee’s chair at the end of a doubles match. at the Mexican Open in February, with thumbs cracking his racquet at the official’s feet.

Psychologists have found that the physical expression of anger tends to impair performance and can encourage later outbursts. In one often quoted In a 1959 study by psychologist RH Hornberger, participants listened to insults before being split into two groups. A group hammered nails. The other was sitting quietly. The nail-pounding group was much more hostile to those who criticized them.

And yet, these days, racket smash is contagious. There was Naomi Osaka’s display in her third-round loss to Leylah Fernandez at the US Open last year. Novak Djokovic during the bronze medal match at the Tokyo Olympics. Even Roger Federer had its moments. Rafael Nadal, on the other hand, is renowned for being gentle with his equipment and has said he would never break his racquet.

Hitting and throwing a racket, not to mention kicking a ball – which has hit or nearly hit and possibly injured people on the pitch or in the stadium – falls under equipment abuse under the rules of the sport. To the frustration of some of the biggest names in tennis, these codes are more gray than black and white.

Martina Navratilova, an 18-time Grand Slam singles champion who covers the Miami Open for Tennis Channel, expressed the feelings of many after Brooksby’s racquet made contact with the ball carrier.

“If it hits the ball boy, they have to disqualify him,” she said.

Brooksby and Kyrgios lost in Miami on Tuesday, but Zverev advanced to the quarter-finals and has a good chance of winning one of the best titles on the ATP Tour, although some tennis players think he should be on. the key to clear a suspension.

A spokesperson for the ATP, which does not publicly discuss individual penalties, said Brooksby was fined $15,000, $5,000 less than the maximum $20,000 a player can receive for an incident on the part of tournament officials. This was less than half of the $30,130 he had guaranteed himself by winning the match, and the $94,575 he ultimately collected for reaching the fourth round.

Kyrgios was fined $20,000 for nearly hitting the ball boy after his loss to Nadal in Indian Wells, where he collected nearly $180,000 for reaching the quarter-finals. He, too, will earn $94,575 in Miami, minus the fines he will receive for his behavior on Tuesday.

Zverev, who has won over $30 million in career prize money, had to forfeit his Mexican Open winnings, and the ATP fined him $65,000, but the suspended ban allowed him – in less than two tournaments – to more than triple the prize money of what his outburst cost him.

The ATP wonders if, given recent increases in prize money, an increase in fines could deter players. Fines for racketeering abuse on the ATP Tour start at $500, compared to $2,500 on the WTA Tour.

Other than that, the codes for men and women are similar: no hard hitting, kicking or throwing of a racket – or any equipment for that matter, and no physical abuse or attempt abuse against ball players, referees, judges or spectators.

Still, tennis officials have a somewhat ambiguous understanding of when disqualification is warranted. It goes a bit like this: if you intentionally throw a racket or hit a ball at someone with the intention of hitting or intimidating them, you are automatically disqualified, whether you succeed or fail. However, if you throw or smash a racquet or hit a ball without considering its direction, and it ends up hitting someone, tournament officials must assess whether an injury has occurred.

If someone is actually hurt, like when Djokovic inadvertently hitting a linesman in the throat at the US Open 2020, the player is automatically disqualified. But if no one is injured, such as when Brooksby’s racquet struck the ball carrier’s foot, the referees will impose a penalty and tournament officials will fine the player – no disqualification is necessary.

Brooksby and Zverev quickly posted an apology for their actions on social media and personally apologized to those involved.

“I was grateful to have a second chance,” Brooksby told Tennis Channel on Monday.

Kyrgios is a repeat offender. At a press conference after the Indian Wells game, he berated reporters who asked him about the racquet throw that nearly cut off a ball boy’s head, and was not apologized .

“It certainly wasn’t like Zverev,” he said. “It was a complete accident. I didn’t hit him.

It was only after an avalanche of criticism on social media that Kyrgios issued an apology. The next day he posted a video of himself giving the boy a racket.

After his game on Wednesday, Kyrgios played the victim, blaming Bernardes for talking to the crowd as Kyrgios tried to serve. He seemed not to understand why the ATP criticized him so much for the Indian Wells incident, given, he said, that Dennis Shapovalov had inadvertently hit a fan with a ball and only received a fine of $5,000. In fact, Shapovalov punched a chair umpire and was fined $7,000.

“I can throw a racket at Indian Wells,” Kyrgios said, “I haven’t even hit anybody, and I get $25,000.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: In tennis, racquet breakage becomes uncontrollable
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