Elite athletes are passionate. They have to be in order to dedicate their lives to their sport. And sometimes, that passion spills over into angry outbursts. Baseball players break their bats over their femurs. Basketball players and soccer players sometimes yell at the referees and swarm around them.
Tennis players slam their rackets on the court or scream at the chair umpire. Of course, some athletes gain more of a reputation for their anger than others.
Let’s look at the seven angriest professional tennis players.
7. Viktor Troicki
Serbian player Viktor Troicki has taken his anger out on children, which certainly didn’t endear a lot of fans to him. In 2016, Troicki snatched the ball out of the ball boy’s hand and used it to gesture at the umpire, debating the call.
The umpire called an ace, and Troicki somehow thought that aggressively taking the ball away from the kid on the sideline and showing it to the umpire would somehow reverse the call. He ended up losing the point and the match, after which he refused to shake his opponent’s hand.
6. Lleyton Hewitt
There’s nothing like going out with a bang, and this Aussie player was fined $2,500 after berating the umpire in the final match of his career. We get it—no one wants to go out on a loss. Heck, Tom Brady un-retired because he couldn’t handle the fact that he lost his last game in the NFL.
He called the line judge a moron and a cheat over foot faults and continued his tirade against the umpire, as well. By the end of the match, he had chilled out enough to shake hands with his opponent for the last time, but he was still handed down a fine just to cap off his career.
5. Andy Roddick
This American player has been on the scene for quite a while, and like the other players on this list, he’s had his fair share of tantrums. In 2011, he got a warning for smashing his racket and then received a penalty for hitting his ball out of the stadium area and into the crowd.
He then argued with the chair umpire, saying that, “It wasn’t even an angry thing,” and that he had just lobbed the ball back. However, he was penalized, and it cost him the game against his opponent, Philipp Kohlschreiber.
4. Andy Murray
When the Scottish player isn’t shutting down sexist reporters or serving over a sliding Serena Williams who fell at the net as they played doubles, Andy Murray can be quite the hot-head.
While he has certainly mellowed out in his later years, he still sometimes lets that anger seep out. In January of 2022, Murray took a frustrated whack at a loose ball in his match against Nikoloz Basilashvili. He certainly wasn’t hiding his emotions, and the commentators made a point to comment on it.
3. Novak Djokovic
The 2022 controversy around Novak’s protest of the COVID-19 vaccine is far from Novak’s first time making waves. He has gotten so angry during a match that he threatened to throw his racket into the stands, which would have probably had long-standing repercussions on his career.
This took place at the French Open when there wasn’t anyone in the stands to watch, but still, it wouldn’t have looked good for Novak. He also got famously disqualified from the US Open in 2020 after a ball that he hit in anger went on to strike the line judge in the throat.
While he wasn’t aiming for her, it didn’t seem to matter much. The line judge wasn’t injured, but Novak was defaulted by the umpire.
That meant he missed out on prize money, and since he decided to leave without talking to the press, he was also fined.
2. John McEnroe
This bad boy of tennis was known for his temper. In fact, he was so well-known for his most famous outburst that he re-enacted it in a Direct TV commercial with Serena Williams, who was dressed as Wonder Woman.
However, shouting out his signature, “You cannot be serious!” wasn’t the only time that McEnroe brought his temper to the court along with his tennis balls.
He’s said that he was often hiding other emotions when he had his outbursts, but no matter what he was feeling at the time, McEnroe has certainly turned his big personality into a very big brand.
1. Nick Kyrgios
It won’t come as a surprise, but Nick Kyrgios is the angriest tennis player ever. His outbursts are part of why tennis fans either love or hate him, and hence why people watch him play.
Apart from Nadal and Federer, there is no other player that draws in as many viewers to the sport as Nick Kyrgios, and that wouldn’t be the case if he didn’t smash racquets or had his arguments with the umpires/crowd.
It’s not every day that an angry player gets a famous tennis fan involved in his outburst—especially when the actor in question wasn’t even the one heckling him.
Kyrgios engaged with a fan who was shouting at him from the stand. The heckler in question happened to be sitting with famed tennis fan Ben Stiller. Kyrgios yelled, “Are you good at tennis?”
The fan answered honestly that he wasn’t, and Kyrgios said, “Exactly, so why are you speaking?” And then he paused before gesturing at Stiller. “Do I tell him how to act? No.” The crowd laughed, but it was clear Kyrgios was agitated by the person calling him out.
Kyrgios hasn’t only pointed his anger at the fans. He has smashed his racquets and punched a board, as well as frequently arguing with the umpires. Kyrgios’ temper is so well-known that his opponents take advantage of his frustration and lack of focus.
Are Angry Tennis Players Good or Bad?
Fans can be split on whether or not it’s okay or expected for athletes to lose their cool. Some say that they’re role models and as such should be able to hold their tempers and keep their composure. Others think that if you’re not showing your passion for every game, then you don’t want it bad enough.
Regardless of where you fall on that, these angry outbursts can cost the players a lot of money. Whether they break their rackets, lose purses, don’t get sponsorships, or get knocked out of tournaments because their opponents exploit their tempers, they can end up hurting their bank accounts.
However, polarizing players get air time, and some, like McEnroe, can build a brand off of the court based off of what they did on the court.