Photo : Babolat

Tennis players have always taken their anger out on their racquets.  

But the problem is becoming more and more common.  

Rampant, even.  

That’s all it took for a bad habit to become an April Fool’s Day joke by Babolat.   

Filmed in Indian Wells in early March, the spot features Benoît Paire and Fabio Fognini—two notoriously temperamental aces—testing Babolat’s newest innovation to keep their tools in working order for a little longer. 

Photo : Babolat 

The players’ smiles said it all and helped defuse some of the concerns the angry—and reprehensible—gestures tend to spark. Were they over-trivialized? I don’t think so. Still, tennis authorities need to start giving serious thought to these questionable and wholly preventable actions.  

It’s an important topic. 

With talented athletes under tremendous physical and mental pressure, bursts of anger and the resulting reactions are common in all sports. 

Hockey players break their sticks on the boards or the crossbar, football players whip their helmets at the bench when a play doesn’t go their way and baseball players crack a bat or go on a rampage in the dugout.  

Without excusing any of the gestures, the most significant impact is the terrible example angry athletes put out there for the legions of children and teens who idolize them. Angry outbursts are among the actions that do the most damage to the reputations of athletes and their respective sports. 

There can also be collateral damage.  

Since the incident that got Djokovic booted out of the 2020 US Open, the tantrums had been few and far between. 

But they’ve become pretty common as of late. 

In Indian Wells, Nick Kyrgios threw his racquet just a few seconds after shaking hands with Rafa Nadal, who’d just sent the Australian packing. The footage shows a ball kid who could’ve been injured by the random projectile. 

In Miami, Jenson Brooksby did the same, in a gesture that could’ve had equally dire consequences.  

That immediately prompted equally emotional Andy Roddick to make an instructional video on how to release some of the pressure without hurting anyone. 

By far, the most serious incident is the scene Alexander Zverev caused in Acapulco on February 23. Without downplaying the risks involved in the other incidents, Zverev smashed his racquet on the umpire’s chair, almost hitting him on the leg. Not to mention how concerning it is to see this kind of intimidation tactic against an official. 

In the hours that followed, Zverev was disqualified from the event (and therefore lost $30,000 in prize money), and the ATP handed him a fine of $40,000 that includes a year of probation.   

A lot of players have tried to intimidate an ump or have the last word in a contentious situation. Tennis stars know the power they possess and use it. Sometimes, they overuse it.  

Some said Zverev should’ve been suspended for several weeks or months to teach him a lesson.  

Same for Kyrgios, who was fined $25,000 for his antics in Indian Wells and an additional $35,000 for his aggressive behaviour toward chair umpire Carlos Bernardes in his match against Jannik Sinner.  

Fines amounting to pocket change will never be a major deterrent in any sport. Suspensions remain the most effective way to dissuade players, who lose not only income and rankings points but also visibility for their precious sponsors. 

Something must be done. Before someone gets hurt.

The ATP Reacts

The day after writing this blog, the ATP made public a first significant reaction to this situation and intended to remedy it with concrete action.  

“The first three months of the season have seen an unusual frequency of high-profile incidents involving unsportsmanlike conduct,” ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said in a statement published by Reuters. “We have seen too many dangerous moments, with verbal and racquet abuses, with officials or ball persons caught in the crossfire of aggressive or disrespectful conduct. The incidents shine a bad light on our sport.” 

Photo : Getty 

In a note sent to all the members, Mr. Gaudenzi, a former player himself, indicated that the organization would tighten the screw from now on. 

“Effective immediately and as we head into the clay court swing, the ATP officiating team has been directed to take a stricter stance in judging violations of the code of conduct. Additionally, we are also undertaking a review of the code, as well as the disciplinary processes, to ensure that it provides appropriate and up-to-date penalties for serious violations and repeat offenders.” 

“This conduct affects everyone, and sends the wrong message to our fans, especially young fans,” Gaudenzi concluded.


Photo : WTA

It seems as if nothing can stop the tornado that’s been ripping through the WTA since the start of the season. We all knew 20-year-old Iga Swiatek was talented, and now she’s gained the confidence that will make her a dominant player this year and in the years to come. 

In Miami, she breezed through her 12 sets. She was pushed to 7-5 in only one of them and closed out three at 6-0.  

With the crown, the pride of Warsaw adds her name to the prestigious list of champions who’ve won the Sunshine Double: Miami and Indian Wells. She joins the ranks of Victoria Azarenka (2016), Kim Clijsters (2005) and Steffi Graf (1994, 1996). 

Since Monday, Iga also happens to be World No.1 in the wake of Ashleigh Barty’s retirement. But even if Barty had stuck around, it may have only been a few months until Swiatek surpassed her. 

Her phenomenal start to the season is among the strongest in the history of the WTA, with a 26-3 record since January 2022. What’s more, Iga’s building on a 37-day sequence of 3 titles and 17 wins between February 22 and April 2. Since joining the tour, she’s won nearly 8 of 10 matches. That’s 172-49 or 78%! 

Photo : AP 

The clay season that’s about to get underway should further boost Iga Swiatek’s record. Don’t forget that she claimed her only Grand Slam crown (so far) on Paris’ hallowed red dirt. 

New balls, please! 

Photo : @HerwayMagazine 

It took even less time than I’d anticipated. 

In last week’s segment on Ashleigh Barty, I wrote how a lot of people believed the Aussie would move from competitive tennis to competitive golf. 

After all, doesn’t she have the Midas touch that makes her excel at everything she does? 

Well, here we are. 

Barty just won yet another title, just 10 days after she shook the world with the news of her retirement.  

The win came at a nine-hole tournament at the Brookwater Golf and Country Club, not too far from her hometown of Ipswich. Playing off a handicap of four, the young retiree won the ladies event with a round of 34 points.  

Photo : Golf Australia 

Pictured here with the men’s Australian amateur champion Louis Dobbelaar, Ash took home about $30 in prize money—a far cry from the tennis income she’s become accustomed to.  

But you and I both know money isn’t her primary focus.  

“I love sport. I’m a sport nut, like a lot of Australians are. I’ll be lured to it,” said Barty when she retired from tennis. “I have always been an athlete in the sense of trying different things but we’ll see how we go.” 


Photo : ATP Tour

A star is born. 

It may be a cliché, but it’s the very first thing that came to my mind. 

We felt it. We anticipated it. We were ready for it. 

And it finally happened.  

Carlos Alcaraz is a tennis star.  

Despite the fact that they’re both from Spain and they both hit the bigtime at 18, Carlos isn’t the next Rafa. He’s the first Carlos.  

Photo : Tennis World

With so much talent and the confidence of a veteran, the teenager keeps climbing and climbing. An explosive mix of speed, power and creativity that make him the full package. 

How mentally solid is he? Since the start of his brand-new career, he has a record of 44-2 when he wins the first set (16-0 in 2022).  

His victory over Casper Ruud made him the youngest member of the ATP to win the Miami Open—the tournament at which all his predecessors failed, including Rafael Nadal (five times).  

There were countless spectacular points, just as there have been in all his matches since the start of the season. Here’s a sequence from early on in his quarterfinal showdown against Tsitsipas. 

Alcaraz also happens to be very polite and respectful. In the customary post-match compliments on his rival’s game, he said to Ruud: “Most important thing, you’re a nice guy. It’s important to be a nice guy, and you are.”

Image : TennisTV 

Really, what’s not to like about him? 

The whiz-kid isn’t done blowing us away with his passion, talent and charisma.  

Not unlike 2005 and a young player by the name of Nadal.  

Separated at birth, take two 

It looks like you enjoyed the segment I inserted at the end of last week’s blog. Some of you even sent me a few suggestions.  

I promised I’d share the matches if I was able to find good photos.  

The first set of maybe twins comes to us from Pat Rodricks, a Montrealer who’s reading this from sunny Mexico.  

He thought Andy Roddick and actor Seann William Scott could perhaps be long-lost brothers. Incidentally, you may have noticed that Pat and Andy’s last names are virtually identical. Coincidence? Probably.    

Mr. Rodricks added a second, rather interesting, duo: Canadian tennis legend Daniel Nestor and Two and a Half Men star Jon Cryer. I found a photo of Jon with hair, and he does indeed look a lot like our famous lefty.  

If you come up with any other pairings, let me know!


Twitter: @paul6rivard 

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