November 10, 2016
Top 10 Desperate Measures To Win
How can Dokovic regain his No1 position in the world for the year end?
Andy Murray has been known, mid match, to get the scissors out in an attempt to tame an unruly fringe whilst playing Nadal. But what unusual or drastic measures have been taken by Top Tennis players in their bid to win? We thought we would look back through the archives and come up with the “Top Ten most desperate measures to win a tennis match.” Some of them worked. Some of them didn’t. Some of them are funny. Some aren’t.
10/ No Samson and Delilah story…..
Recently, Svetlana Kuznetsova hacked off a large part of her pony tail during a break to beat Agnieszka Radwanska at the WTA Finals in Singapore.
Battling exhaustion in the final set, the Russian cut her thick plait in half with scissors (sourced from an obliging umpire). Not realising quite how much she had cut off, it appeared that a weight had been lifted.
“It was bothering me a lot. When I was hitting the forehands I hit a good shot and it would hit my eye,” she said. “I thought, what’s more important? My hair, which can grow, or the match?”
Defending champion Radwanska said she was unaware of the incident, but joked, “Good thing she didn’t cut anything else. I think hair is not very important.”
Tell that to Samson…..
9/ Andre Agassi trims his body hair in 1993.
Asked at a Wimbledon press conference to acknowledge that there was suddenly less hair on the famous Agassi body, Andre warmed to the subject.
‘Yes, I guess there is,’ he said, smiling. ‘It makes me a little more aerodynamic out there on the courts, you know? I do it myself most of the time but if there are other options, I’ll have somebody else do it. But I’m very selective. For instance, I wouldn’t let you do it.’
This was a big step for Andre because hair had previously been more important than winning. He wore a wig for the 1990 French Open final and cared more about it staying on than the title itself.
8/Djokovic breaks the rules then pleads ignorance.
In Miami in 2014, Novak Djokovic turned the quarter-final against Andy Murray by putting his racquet over the net in order to volley a simple winner.
Murray saw the replay, pointed out that Djokovic had broken the rules, but Novak got away with it because the umpire didn’t see the incident.
A victorious Djokovic claimed later: ‘I told Andy I thought I’m allowed to pass the racquet over the net as long as I’m not touching the net. Maybe he is right, I’m not sure. Obviously that distracted him mentally and after that he gave the set away.’
7/ Jimmy Connors and that extended toilet break v Lendl
During the US Open final of 1983, Jimmy Connors disappeared for a long toilet break. Connors later claimed: ‘I had a horrible attack of diarrhea.’
But his agent at the time, Donald Dell, later revealed that Connor had been suffering from blisters and needed a second pain-killing injection.
While Ivan Lendl protested about Jimmy’s absence, Connors got more comfortable, returned ready for action and won the match 6-3, 6-7, 7-5, 6-0.
6/ Mikhail Youzhny smashes…his own head…and wins!
Youzhny was so upset at losing a point to Nicholas Almagro at the 2008 Miami Open that he smashed himself over the head three times with his racquet and drew blood.
This is not the type of smash you are taught to use at top tennis finishing schools.
However, after play had been suspended to wipe the blood away, Youzhny actually won the next seven points and the match.
5/ Justine Henin Goes On Intraveinous Drip
After winning an epic US Open semi-final against Jennifer Capriati in 2003, Justine Henin was shattered and had only hours before she was supposed to play the final against Kim Clijsters.
The solution? An intravenous drip – the kind of thing usually reserved for people in hospital. The drip re-hydrated Henin after three hours of incredible action had left her cramping badly.
It worked. Henin snatched a few hours sleep, came out and beat her Belgian rival to take the US Open. Amazing stuff.
4/ Who was more desperate? Djokovic or Becker?
It’s a vital moment in the Aussie Open quarter-final in 2015 and Boris Becker can wait no longer. Novak’s coach has to take a toilet break but he is spotted leaving by Djokovic himself.
Pandemonium, as Djokovic tries to protest about his guru’s reaction to the call of nature. How desperate is Novak to win? Does he want poor Boris to have an accident?
Djokovic explained on court later: ‘Like everyone else he has a need to go but not in the first game of the second set. At that moment I had break point and I thought he was guilty for me not using that break point.’
All ended happily. Novak sailed through anyway, after Becker found the relief he was looking for.
3/Azaranka’s medical time-out against Sloane Stephens
It was the semi-final of the Australian Open, 2013. Sloane Stephens, still a teenager, had just saved five match points to get the second set back on serve.
Azarenka chose that vital moment to take a long medical time-out and then returned to break the Stephens serve to seal victory.
In her on-court interview after the match, Azarenka joked that she had nearly committed the ‘choke of the year.’ That led people to accuse her of a tactical break to get over her nerves, which would have been against the rules.
Azarenka later insisted she had required the break because a “locked rib” had been giving her breathing difficulties.
2/ Jeff Tarango attempts to have umpire removed.
So, you don’t like the way the decisions are going? You don’t like the umpire giving you code violations? Just throw a tantrum and try to get the official censured instead! Pretty desperate, admittedly.
But that’s what Jeff Tarango did at Wimbledon in 1995, when he didn’t appreciate the decision-making abilities of an umpire called Bruno Rebeuh, or indeed the crowd’s reaction to him.
‘Oh shut up!’ Tarango told the crowd – thus receiving another code violation. ‘That’s it. I’m not playing any more,’ he said, demanding to see referee supervisor Stefan Fransson. But when Fransson wouldn’t take his side either, Tarango simply walked off – and his wife later attacked the umpire.
1/ Justine Henin raises her hand and then doesn’t confess.
There is rule-bending, there are temper-tantrums…and then there’s what Justine Henin did at the 2003 French Open in her semi-final against Serena Williams.
The American was 4-2 and 30-0 up in the final set. When Henin raised her hand at the last moment to indicate that she wasn’t ready to receive, Williams dabbed her serve into the net and rightly expected to be given her first serve again.
But the umpire hadn’t seen Henin’s gesture and remarkably the Belgian refused to admit what she had done.
A distraught Williams, who later accused Henin of “lying and fabricating,” lost the next four points and the match. Henin went on to take the French title.
So what does all this tell us? It shows that the women are just as badly behaved as the men. It shows that some people will stoop pretty low to get the edge over others. It also shows that winning is more important than the hairstyle! But in the ruthless world of professional tennis, almost anything goes!
And remember, it is that same gladiatorial intensity that also makes tennis so great. Therefore I suppose we shouldn’t be too shocked when people become so desperate that they do things they later regret…or don’t, as the case may be. So will we be seeing Dokovic shaving his head to regain the year end No1 – the next few days will tell…