What makes a ‘tennis bad boy’?
Before I get the ball rolling and start shedding the light on all of the bad boys of the tennis world, I figured it would be a good idea to let you know how I’ve shortlisted these hot heads in the first place!
Let’s be honest, while some guys have taken things a bit far in the past, we all love to see a bad boy in action. And when all is said and done, there are a few factors that have led me to create the top five list below.
One of the biggest signs of a tennis bad boy is a serial racket smasher.
It’s one of the main ways that tennis players vent their frustrations on the court, and there have been a fair few rackets that have been mangled over the years.
Sure, it’s not the racket’s fault that a player is losing or playing badly, but it’s certainly the racket that gets held responsible it seems.
Although there are a few chronic racket breakers on tour these days, nobody comes close to the legendary Marat Safin - check out his montage here:
Outbursts can come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s a player yelling at themselves, arguing with the umpire, fighting with a spectator, or just picking a fight with anyone that happens to be in the vicinity - tennis’ bad boys just can’t help themselves in this category.
Of course, these outbursts don’t tend to go unpunished, and extreme outbursts are a surefire way for a player to get the crowd to turn on them.
With that said, some can be quite amusing, and one of my all-time favorites is Fabio Fognini’s meltdown at Wimbledon:
If you are any good with Italian, you will likely find this one quite amusing!
Smashing rackets and verbally abusing the umpire/spectators isn’t for everyone. In fact, some players just prefer to get a little rowdy when expressing themselves on the court, and this can come out in all kinds of interesting forms.
Over the years, I’ve seen guys sit down and refuse to play, walk off the court in disgust, stop the match due to complaints about noise levels in the stands, pass their racket to a ball kid to have a try and win a point, and many other disruptions that you probably won’t believe.
Regularity of meltdowns
To earn the coveted title of a true tennis bad boy, such poor behavior cannot be a one-time event.
It has to occur regularly, and if it happens regularly while being quite spectacular at the same time - the guys deserve their spot on the top five list.
And let’s face it, these bad boys definitely pull in the ticket sales, as fans are secretly hoping to see some bad behavior and a few meltdowns when they go and watch them.
My top 5 hot heads - watch out for these guys!
Now I’ve run through the make-up of our tennis bad boys, let me get into the real reason you are here - to discover who the true bad boys of the game are right now, and why they’ve made the list. In no particular order, let’s get started.
Kyrgios is well-known as being a guy who struggles with his emotions at times, despite the fact that he is also one of the most promising talents on the ATP Tour.
The young Aussie is a chronic racket smasher, he’s not afraid to speak his mind when things are going wrong on the court, and he has very little care for being overly ‘PC’ shall we say.
He even enjoys a good argument with fans in the middle of a match at times, and against all odds, these disruptions somehow seem to make him play better!
I’ve already mentioned this flamboyant Italian, but let me now get down to some specifics.
For starters, Fognini is a bit of a wild man, and he can often be seen talking to himself throughout a match. My Italian’s not too hot, but I can only imagine it’s nothing too positive!
He is no stranger to being fined for his behavior either, and he has even been faced with a ban from Grand Slam tennis in the past for going a little overboard towards a female umpire at the US Open.
Then again, when he isn’t going too far, Fognini is always an exciting player to watch, and you are always promised a few fireworks.
Medvedev is one of the newer additions to the bad boy list, and as he himself admits - he has a hard time keeping the demons quiet inside his head.
Despite all of this, Medvedev is now ranked number 2 in the world, so he is clearly an incredibly talented player.
And to be perfectly honest with you, he is usually a somewhat docile guy out there on the court, but when he blows - boy does he blow!
This is why he just had to make it onto my list, as he is a regular racket smasher, he loves a bit of hostility from the crowd, and my personal favorite, he does not back down from confrontation whatsoever.
Check out his famous argument with Stefanos Tsitsipas right here if you haven’t seen it already:
Speaking of guys who have a hard time with their emotions, it’s tough to think of someone that fits the bill more than Benoit Paire.
This Frenchman is a bit of a veteran on the tour these days, and while he has produced some great tennis over the years, he is arguably better known for his immense meltdowns on the court.
Benoit has been known to break more than 3 rackets in a single match in the past, he loves to curse in his native tongue, and perhaps most intriguing - he even sits down at the change of ends and discusses everything from his outfit to the weather with the umpire.
You just never know what you’re going to get with Benoit Paire, which is why he has to go down as one of the true bad boys of the game.
No - this isn’t a mistake. Novak Djokovic may well be on his way to go down as the greatest of all time, but boy does this man see the red mist at times.
His extreme outbursts no doubt come from how seriously competitive he is on the court, but fair to say, Djokovic has been known to let his emotions get the better of him.
When he snaps a racket, for example, Novak is never happy with just a mild break - he wants to put a hole in the court!
And when he loses it with the umpire or the crowd, he pulls no punches when it comes to showing his disgust. But much like Nick Kyrgios mentioned earlier, he always seems to play better afterward.
Have any other bad boys in mind? Do you agree with my top five? Jump into the comments to share your thoughts!