High Profile Defaults in Professional Tennis

David Nalbandian pic
David Nalbandian
Image: espn.go.com

Steve Kanzer has served as the chairman and chief executive officer of Accredited Ventures, Inc., in New York City since 2001. When he is not leading the investment banking company’s life science sector Steve Kanzer enjoys staying active by playing tennis.

Like golf, tennis is often regarded as a sport of etiquette. It is considered impolite, for example, to celebrate a point that ends in an unforced error by an opponent. That said, there have been several occasions on which a professional player’s actions and behavior have resulted in disqualification from a match.

One of the more recent disqualifications came during the final of the 2012 AEGON Championships, a grass court tournament held in London just before Wimbledon. Former world No. 3 David Nalbandian took the first set from Croatian Marin Cilic in a tie breaker. The match was on serve 3-4 in the second set when Nalbandian kicked the base of an on court advertisement in frustration. The advertisement broke, sending pieces of wood into the leg of a nearby linesperson. Fergus Murphy, the presiding chair umpire, immediately declared a default, awarding the match, and the tournament, to Cilic.

John McEnroe is a player that often calls to mind on-court tirades, though his infamous engagements with chair umpires rarely resulted in more than a stern warning or point penalty. That all changed in 1990 when the American became the first player in nearly three decades to be disqualified from a grand slam match. Leading Mikael Pernfors two sets to one in the fourth round of the Australian Open, McEnroe let his temper get the best of him, smashing a racket and reeling off a litany of curse words. Chair umpire Gerry Armstong cited racket abuse and verbal abuse as grounds from the default.

Another high profile default involves Andre Agassi at the 1996 RCA Championships in Indianapolis. Once again, Agassi found himself leading the match one set to love before he cursed directly at the umpire and fired a ball off into the stadium. Dana Loconto conferred with Mark Darby, the tournament supervisor, before announcing the default to an upset crowd.

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