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When McEnroe abused an umpire... and Tarango's wife slapped another!

June 04, 2014 10:27 IST

When McEnroe abused an umpire... and Tarango's wife slapped another!



Fernando Verdasco was involved in a sharp exchange with the umpire before losing to Andy Murray at the French Open. The incident prompted us to dig out three memorable player-umpire duels over the years.

It might have been an easy passage to the French Open quarter-finals for Andy Murray on Monday, but for his opponent, a forgettable day.

Fernando Verdasco, who was beaten by the Briton 6-4, 7-5, 7-6(3), was involved in a sharp exchange with the umpire. 

Tempers frayed in the seventh game of the third set after Verdasco's serve was called out, as he was heading back to the chair for the change of ends.

The left-hander asked umpire Pascal Maria to call in the supervisor to deal with the rumpus, before Murray conceded the point, keen to move on in a fast-paced match.

"He missed...the return because my serve was to the line and he couldn't hit it with the strings," Verdasco told reporters later.

"So it was completely out of sense to serve a first serve again. I said to call the supervisor, and Andy said that it was fine, and it was a point for me."

Nursing the grudge as well as licking his wounds at failing in his bid to reach the Paris last eight for the first time, Verdasco said run-ins with Maria were nothing new.

"He's not the kind of umpire I get along with. I can tell you that," he bristled.

On court, Verdasco's blast at the umpire fired him up to break back but seventh seeded Murray regrouped to prevail in a tie-break and win the match.

Following the incident, looks at similar on-court verbal duels over the years.

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Image: Fernando Verdasco of Spain and umpire Pascal Maria (inset).


McEnroe unleashed a volley of abuse at umpire Armstrong

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When it comes to umpires, no player is more controversial than John McEnroe. 

The American's phrase "you cannot be serious" is now part of tennis folklore.

McEnroe's first major brush with an umpire came in 1981. After winning his first-round match against Tom Gullikson at Wimbledon, the player was fined US $1,500 after he called umpire Ted James "the pits of the world" and then swore at tournament referee Fred Hoyles.

But the most significant controversy was at the Australian Open in 1990.

In his fourth round match against Swede Mikael Pernfors, McEnroe was ejected from the tournament for swearing at the umpire, supervisor and referee. He was also fined US $65,000.

Besides, the American was warned by the umpire for intimidating a lineswoman, and then docked a point for smashing a racket.

The seven-time major champion was apparently unaware that a new Code of Conduct, which had been introduced just before the tournament and which entailed a third code violation would not lead to the deduction of a game but instead would result in immediate disqualification.

Thus, when McEnroe unleashed a volley of abuse at umpire Gerry Armstrong, he was defaulted. 

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Image: Umpire Gerry Armstrong (inset) and John McEnroe.

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When Tarango's wife slapped umpire Bruno Rebeuh

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Another controversial incident was at the All England Club in 1995. 

Journeyman Jeff Tarango was defaulted after walking off a court during his third-round singles match, which was awarded to his German opponent, Alexander Mronz, who was leading 7-6(8-6), 3-1 at that point. 

It began when Tarango, serving at break-point in the fourth game of the second set, served what the linesman called a fault, and the chair umpire Bruno Rebeuh overruled and called a let.

On the other hand, Tarango thought it had been an ace. The American went to the chair and began to argue the call before returning to the service line for the second serve with the crowd booing and whistling. The player responded with "Oh, shut up!"

Rebeuh announced, "Code violation, audible obscenity, Mr. Tarango."

Not happy with the call, Tarango went to the chair and demanded the umpire call the supervisor.

At first, Rebeuh refused, then called the supervisor, who asked Tarango to continue playing.

The player continued arguing both the call and the penalty, then raised his arm and pointed to Rebeuh and said, "You are the most corrupt official in the game. I'm not playing any more."

Rebeuh responded by assessing Tarango a point penalty for verbal abuse, which meant Tarango lost the game.

The American gathered up his rackets and walked off the court.

Moments later, Rebeuh encountered Tanago's wife, Benedicte, who slapped him.

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Image: Umpire Bruno Rebeuh (inset), Jeff Tarango and wife Benedicte.

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Radulescu's only ATP final was a disappointment

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Alex Radulescu.

Heard of him?

He was a German tennis player who played well above his potential in the 1998 Chennai Open. 

It was the first and only ATP final of his career. 

Seeded fifth, Radulescu faced sixth seeded Swede Michael Tillstrom in the decider. At 5-4 in the third and deciding set, the German appeared convinced he had served a winning ace. The linesman didn't move either. 

However, the umpire called it out enraging the player. After a heated debate, Radulescu walked back and went through the motions. 

Tillstrom pocketed the next three games to win 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, with his opponent not even playing the ball, thereby conceding the final three games. 

Predictably, Radulescu didn't shake hands with the umpire after the match.

His lone final had ended in a disappointing defeat.

It was a match he thought he had won!

Image: German Alex Radulescu
Photographs: Getty Images

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