Crying after a match because you’ve won, or lost, is pretty common in tennis and in sports in general. But breaking down in the middle of a match is much rarer. However, just like Nicolas Almagro, some players have already dropped tears on the court for many diverse reasons.
After having easily won the 1994 Australian Open, Pete Sampras was having more troubles in the following year. After having battled through five sets to defeat Magnus Larsson in the fourth round, the American was back on the court playing another marathon-like match against Jim Courier in his quarter final. And at the start of the fifth set, one spectator made the mistake of screaming « Win for your coach ! » from the stands. A reference to Tim Gullikson, Sampras’ coach who had just left Australia in emergency after fainting a few times, and who was hospitalized in the US, where he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After the supporter’s scream, Pete Sampras broke down and started crying. As the class act he is, Jim Courier offered to stop the match and restart the following day, but Sampras held on, and ended up winning the match. That year, he reached the final of the Australian Open, where he was defeated by André Agassi. Tim Gullikson passed away a year later, at the age of forty-four.
In general, sportsmen cry of joy or sadness after a match. Before his 2016 US Open final, Stan Wawrinka innovated by crying even before setting foot on the court, while he was still in the dressing room. « I was more nervous than I had ever been in my career. In the dressing room, I was shaking. Five minutes before the match, when my coach started speaking to me, I started crying. I was completely shaken », he admitted after the match. Quite surprising from a player who is used to playing big matches and who had already won two Gran Slam tournaments. But the Swiss seems to have quickly recovered from his panic attack, and dried his tears in time to defeat Novak Djokovic on the court and win the trophy.
Impertinence, jokes, light-hearted banter, the legendary Ilie Nastase often made the spectators laugh as a player. But since he has become the captain of the Romanian BNP Paribas Fed Cup team, he’s much less funny. Last April, during a match between Romania and Great-Britain, and as the second match had already started, Nastase started a rant against everyone : the umpire, the British team captain and the player on the court, using a lot of curse and inappropriate language. As a result, the British Johanna Konta, who was clearly upset, started crying in the middle of the match, and Nastase had to be kicked out of the court. Which didn’t stop Konta from winning the match 6-2/6-3.
Last November, the Chilean Daniela Seguel was playing the final of the Santiago tournament and could have lived one of the best days of her life. Speeding towards victory, she was winning 6-4/2-1 when suddenly, her father had a heart attack in the stands. The match was obviously postponed straight away, with the player’s father being immediately rushed to hospital, where unfortunately, the doctors couldn’t save him, as he died shortly after his arrival. The match had started again by then, but the organizers had to interrupt it to announce the terrible news to Daniel Seguel. Broken on her chair, her face covered in tears, she obviously withdrew from the match. From dream to nightmare…
Alizé Cornet’s life is sometimes complicated. In 2014, despite producing a few convincing performances, the Frenchwoman had many off days. Including this match at the Eastbourne tournament in England, which turned out to be a catastrophe. In the second round, Alizé Cornet was facing the German Angelique Kerber. The match was tensed, and after three sets, the two players had to play a tiebreak. Cornet had two match points, but didn’t manage to end the match and saw her opponent come back. After seeing a linesman refuse a point, Cornet walked up to the net, protested, leaned on it, before breaking down in tears, exhausted by the pressure and the event. A scene which left the umpire and the linesmen indifferent, as they didn’t change their decision and which definitely broke Cornet’s concentration. After that, the German won the match.