Top 10 Most Controversial Tennis Players of All Time
For many years, Tennis has been known for being a wonderful sport in which good manners and politeness are the common denominators in every single match and every single tournament. However, there have been some players that far from being like this, has been characterized by their ability to shock the fans not only because of their talent, but also because of a series of unusual events that doesn’t have anything to do with these features. These are the most controversial players of all time.
Top 10 Most Controversial Tennis Players of All Time
10. Lleyton Hewitt
A lot of passion is something that sometimes can get you in trouble. This is fact that this great Australian player knows very well, being a man who constantly polarized the public by the intensity with which he behaved in the court.
The best example of this feature was when he played against Juan Ignacio Chela in 2005, and he angrily celebrated an unforced error which gave him the game. Plunged into rage by this attitude, the Argentinean spat on Hewitt´s back when they went to sit.
Although this was a disgusting reaction, there were some people who actually justify this action because of Hewitt´s provocative celebrations in almost every match.
9. Ernests Gulbis
Known as the wild child of Tennis, this is probably the most controversial player today because of a series of comments and attitudes that have created a strong antipathy towards him. He said that people like Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray were extremely boring in their interviews because of the polite fashion that doesn’t have anything to do with how things were in the past.
Besides feeling nostalgic for the trash talking and claiming that tennis rivalries must be like boxing, Gulbis constantly shows an irreverent behavior when he´s playing, being this the reason why most of the players doesn’t get along with him.
8. Michael Chang
The reason why this former tennis player was one of the most controversial was because his bizarre ability to disconcert many of his rivals, in a way that some seen as a provocative joke. The most famous case was in Roland Garros final against Ivan Lendl, when Chang achieved his only Grand Slam title. In this incredible match, he was two sets down and made a spectacular Comeback, thanks to his magnificent skills and the art to get his opponent out of his mind.
First of all, he started to hit slow looping returns “moonballs”, which managed to puts him ahead 4-3 on the last set, converting the Philippe Chatrier court into a twilight dimension in which the public was unable to believe what was happening in front of their eyes. However, the most fantastic moment came when he was serving, deciding to execute an underhand serve in order to confuse Lendl. This unforgettable strategy works and he finally won the match, after an unthinkable double fault that the Czech legend committed.
7. Andy Roddick
He´s the last American tennis player who won a Grand Slam and reached the final stages of every major tournament, having his incredible serve as a lethal weapon which makes him very difficult to beat.
However, besides his incredible abilities and sweaty hat, what everyone remembers about Roddick was his annoying temper, a feature that usually turns the match he was playing in an unpredictable state in which he could get stronger and smash his opponent, or get distracted and stupidly receive penalty points, insult the chair umpire, loss against anyone, or cruelly make fun of the line umpire.
6. Marat Safin
To be the best player of all time is required to have a great talent and a strong personality, a combination that some of the greatest ever as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Pete Sampras always had. In his time, many people thought that Safin will achieve that glorious position because he had those two features.
The problem was that his temper was huger than his talent, making him a player that loses his head when things did not go well. This is something that constantly played against him in instances where having a calm mind is the best weapon, transforming his beautiful tennis into a compound of insults to the umpires and broken rackets. Out of the courts, he was known for enjoying the night life, hanging out with beautiful women, and driving fast cars.
5. Andre Agassi
This is definitely one of the most important tennis players in the history, not only because of his majestic skills with the racket and his eight Grand Slam titles, but also because of a charisma and a fashion style that turns him into a show-man who ended up popularizing this sport in the nineties.
Besides the colorful outfits and a the cool attitude that everyone saw when he played, Agassi showed his true colors in his autobiography, where he revealed a very dark side no one knew: his problems with drugs, his lies, his unhappiness, and his acid criticism towards other players like Boris Becker or Michael Chang.
4. Ilie Nastase
Everyone calls him “Nasty”, and he is one of the few who has come to turn tennis into an art form, thanks to the undeniable aesthetic of his game. The thing is that this Romanian player was also a very controversial figure both in the court and in his personal life.
When he wasn’t playing, he claimed to have slept with more than two thousand women, and when he was, he actually used to talk with the public, destroying the racket when he was upset, and sometimes throwing balls against the umpires. One of the most controversial moments occurred when he was about to play with the legendary Arthur Ashe in a double match, and he entered with his face painted in black, receiving a tremendous disapproval from the public.
3. John McEnroe
If we´re talking about frantic tennis players, this is probably the best example of all, because throughout his successful career, the common denominator wasn’t only the incredibly points or the trophies, but also a series of outburst that constantly showed in the court, whether to drain his rage, distract his rival, or both.
The indomitable “Big Mac”, the one who fought epic battles against legends as Jimmy Connors or Bjorn Borg, used to intimidate the chair umpire by yelling insults and questioning his decisions, usually getting penalty points or even the disqualification because of his unnecessary rudeness. Although he is one of the best players of all time, the madness was his trademark.
2. Jimmy Connors
After Rafael Nadal , he is probably the player with the most winning personality of all time, achieving nothing less than eight Grand Slam titles, and being one of the first to execute the two-handed backhands, an style that many player constantly use these days.
Nevertheless, his competitive side always turns him into a rage machine which tended to outburst against the chair umpire, the public, and everyone who stand between him and the victory, creating a beast that polarized the public into lovers and haters.
Connors starred in one of the most exciting rivalries ever against McEnroe , in which every single match was an intense battle of egos where both gave a display of class and brazenness at the same time.
1. Daniel Koellerer
He has the dubious distinction of being the first tennis player banned from the sport for life for match-fixing after being found guilty of three charges, including the attempting to contrive the outcome of an event.
After he was removed, he issued incendiary comments in which he accused the ATP of being a mafia, Rafael Nadal for consuming doping drugs, and David Ferrer for being a heavy smoker.
He also said that match fixing was something very common in this sport, because this was an easy way for a player to get some extra money.