Sunday June 17th, David Nalbandian was disqualified in the final of the Queen’s, having apparently forgotten that there was a linesman behind a billboard. Sure, blood was drawn. But it's been over a century now that tennis, tougher on the nerves than most games, has transformed phlegm into turnip juice. We take a closer look at the most inspiring spiritual fathers of Nalby; or 10 different ways to get disqualified.
1. Nicolae Mishu – Wimbledon 1924
Despite a war injury which forced him to serve underarm, the Romanian Nicolae Mishu had an unusual sense of the occasion - an old Dadaist rogue, who could not help but serve with his back to the net or place himself in the service box to return serve. However, at the first caprice the party was over. Third round of Wimbledon 1924. His opponent, the American John Richardson, had just hit the net for the third time in the match "I don't want to play against such a cuckold!”
rules penalize any player who leaves the court. His rackets and wipes would remain at the bottom of the umpire’s chair and Mishu fled London the very same day, before offering a small gift to Richardson a few months later to apologize: cigarettes!
2. Earl Cochell – Forest Hills 1951
There were punks in tennis in the 50's! Though he was leading in his match in the last sixteen against Gardnar Mulloy, Earl Cochell lost the plot after an argument with the referee. He stopped making efforts to return serve, served underarm and decided to become left-handed for an entire set. A parody of tennis, when then turned into a Marx Brothers sketch when the American tried to commandeer the umpire’s microphone umpire to ask the public to stop whistling. After giving the finger to everyone upon leaving his fate was sealed. Banned for life by the American Federation, Earl would never play again in a big tournament. Heartbreaking.
3. Stefano Pescosolido – Sydney 1992
When the racket of a frustrated player ends up in the face of a spectator it can be comical. But when the spectator in question is a friend of his opponent it’s definitely so. This is what happened to Stefano Pescosolido in 1992, excluded from a qualifying match in Sydney for injuring the right eye of a young woman sitting in the stands. She left the stadium on a stretcher.
4. Jimmy Connors – Boca West 1986
Furious that the referee stood up to him during his highly anticipated match against Lendl, Jimmy Connors took his stuff and left the court with his head up, shaking hands with the referee to the cheers of a crowd fully acquired to his cause. Lendl never came back: "I thought he was doing all this to get the public sympathy.
" At the end of his career, having gone from being merely a star to being a living legend, he could afford to insult anyone without risk. In 1991, at the U.S. Open, during his legendary match against Aaron Krickstein, the referee let himself be insulted - "You’re an abortion!
5. John McEnroe – Australian Open 1990
In 1990, the tour got a makeover and the regulations got tougher. Being nice, the American quickly gave the opportunity to the big bosses of tennis to study a practical case. In his match against Michael Pernfors, after staring fixedly at an alleged faulty linesman, Big Mac let rip - "fuck off
" - supervisor Ken Farrar was called to the rescue. McEnroe was finally rewarded for all his previous achievements. At almost 31 years old, he had never been disqualified in a tournament...
6. Xavier Malisse – Miami 2005
With his hippy surfer demeanour, Xavier Malisse gave the impression of being a really lovely teenager. A very misleading impression… His huge panic attack against Ferrer in 2005, too rude to be fake, was scattered with hysterical gestures and Flemish insults. The Belgian rolled on the ground, screamed at a linesman whilst hitting his torso and even smashed his work tools in front of the match referee without him even having to ask him to leave... he did it himself.
7. Ilie Nastase – Palm Springs 1976
«He was an asshole and everyone knew it. On the court, he was always trying remind me of the rules".
Determined to take the piss out of future jailbird Roscoe Tanner, whom he couldn't stand, Ilie Nastase went all out. And it's not sad. At the first piece of gamesmanship from Tanner, the Romanian started a strike behind the umpire’s chair. Taken at his word, the umpire disqualified him. To be exact, Nasty insulted him. One of his many disqualifications. With half a dozen, he’s one of the record holders.
8. Jeff Tarango – Wimbledon 1995
How did this low-key game between Tarango and Mronz end up making a worldwide sensation? Everything started from a "shut up"
addressed to the crowd and a penalty point. Jeff Tarango, a quite tormented soul, furiously dropped his balls, collected his things and crossed the small rail of the court number 13, spilling all his hatred on Bruno Rebeuh: "You are the most corrupt referee on tour! Everyone knows that!
Moments later in the alleys, his wife took over by sticking a huge slap on the famous French referee: "This guy deserved a lesson. If Jeff had done what I did, he would have been banned from tennis forever. So I had to do it
9. Andre Agassi – San Jose 1999
"I am shocked. I would never have thought that something like this could end the match. I’ve done much worse".
What Andre Agassi could do and say with some referees did not go down so well with others. Some insanity throw at a linesman during his second round against the journeyman Cecil Mamiit and, hey presto, the star of the tournament is on his way out! "The words I said were not directed to him at all
" he defended himself. "I don't make the rules I apply them"
calmly replied the supervisor Tom Barnes. The kind of story that makes the former chair umpire at Roland Garros, Jacques Dorfmann, jump to the roof: "The referees are so afraid to be poorly rated that they strictly enforce a regulation that completely ignores the context ».
10. Jan Kodes – Rome 1974
Who never went to pieces confronting an Italian in Rome? Nobody. Especially not in those boiling 70’s, in this baroque atmosphere, even Fellini like, where the double winner of Roland Garros Jan Kodes once found his hand placed on the referee who came to check that everything was going as expected, which is to say, badly. Kodes had dared to challenge a strange decision at the end of his second round against the local boy Zugarelli Antonio! His nerves gave out and he was expelled. The American Bill Scanlon had found the solution to being left in peace: "I played against Panatta on the central court of the Foro Italico. I lost. That's what I thought was the safest thing to do
By Julien Pichene