Lowlights and Faults: The Worst of Tennis 2015

Despite all the triumphs and highs of this 2015 season, there were certainly plenty of lows and sad moments both on the court and off. Here’s a look back at the less than fun times this year.

“Sledge-gate”

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios raised eyebrows all year with his on-court antics and brash behavior. But he got the world’s attention during what was supposed to be a routine early round match against Stan Wawrinka in Montreal.

In that one, Kyrgios made a derogatory slur at Wawrinka that included a reference to WTA player Donna Vekic (not by name) and his fellow Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis (by name). Wawrinka didn’t hear it during the match but found out right after. The result? Wawrinka confronted Kyrgios in the locker room and later expressed his anger on social media. Kyrgios was eventually fined and suspended for 28 days by the ATP along with earning a strong rebuke from the WTA. Kyrgios’ mother, Nil, did have her son’s back though when she posted on Twitter that her son was justified citing “A Sledge for a Sledge” before deleting her account later.

Though many felt that Kyrgios’ punishment was too light (some called for him to banned for life) the incident in Montreal and its aftermath magnified the awkward feelings most tennis fans have about the rising star. Some love his athletic game but can do without his boorish behavior. Others, though not condoning what happened in Montreal, feel that the men’s game has grown too polite over the years and they don’t see anything wrong with Kyrgios’ less than genteel demeanor as they see it perhaps attracting a larger audience used to such behavior in other sports.

Back on the Chain Gang

A few years ago, stories involving Bernard Tomic going to jail caused shockwaves in the tennis world. That it happened again in 2015, and with Nick Kyrgios taking up most of the “bad boy” headlines, Tomic’s arrest in Miami didn’t exactly stun everybody.

Having been barred from playing in the Australia v. Kazakhstan Davis Cup tie due to his ongoing dispute with Tennis Australia, Tomic headed to Miami to practice. When Tomic held a party at his hotel, complaints about the noise caused hotel security to stop by and request Tomic to turn it down. When Tomic was less than helpful, local police were then called. Tomic’s disagreement with the police caused him to be packed off to jail where he was charged with resisting arrest and trespassing.

After being released (the charges were dropped a few months later) Tomic did manage to give something of a semi-heartfelt apology during a local TV interview. Used to spending time in lockup, the whole incident really didn’t faze Tomic at all. And it had no impact on his game either. A week later, Tomic went on to defend his ATP title in Bogota.

A Slippery Situation

Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard had a rough 2015. The former top 10 player made early exits at several majors, but seemed to find her groove again at the US Open. But things went dramatically south for Bouchard when she slipped inside the US Open facilities after completing a mixed doubles match with Nick Kyrgios. Bouchard, who suffered a concussion, not only was forced to pull out of all events in New York, she also missed the rest of the season as she continued to recover. Bouchard is currently suing the USTA for damages.

‚ÄčOver in a New York Minute (Well, Actually 21)

The first round US Open match between Serena Williams and Vitalia Diatchenko was anything but a match. While Serena was expected to win easily, no one predicted that she would race through the opening set as her opponent offered little resistance at all. Though it became apparent Diatchenko was suffering with an injury, the packed Arthur Ashe stadium noticeably grumbled at having to sit through nothing more than a practice session for the top seed. Diatchenko eventually retired early in the second set as Williams entered the second round having spent only 21 minutes on court. Though it was unfortunate that Diatchenko was injured, and admirable that she attempted to compete, the awkward evening again raised the ongoing issue of injured players going through with their matches in order to collect the increasing record payouts for just competing in a first round match at a Grand Slam.

“Baby Fed” Stumbles

Sports Illustrated recently called Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov the biggest disappointment in men’s tennis this year. That’s a not surprise given Dimitrov’s up and down results all year. It didn’t help that in 2014 Dimitrov was lauded as a potential No. 1 player and multiple major champion with ongoing (and let’s face it completely unnecessary comparisons) to Roger Federer. Some blamed Dimitrov’s on-court woes to his ongoing relationship with Maria Sharapova, a relationship that ended in late summer. Dimitrov finished the year ranked at No. 28.

Repeat the Question Again?

Tomas Berdych, after losing, I repeat losing, his fourth round match at Wimbledon to Gilles Simon, experienced this enlightened round of question from a not-so-clued in reporter.

We’ll See You Next Year. We Hope.

Juan Martin Del Potro again found himself on the tennis sidelines. Though he competed early in Sydney, injury forced him out of the Australian Open. The former US Open champion later had surgery on his left wrist in January and another surgery in June. Del Potro throughout the year posted inspirational videos and photos of himself in recovery and in training for a promised return in 2016 – a return that is still very much TBD with the Australian Open just around the corner.

Not Welcomed Here Anymore

Players Daniele Bracciali,  Potito Starace, and Alexandros Jakupovic all received lifetime bans from the ITF for corruption.

A Shame It Had to End This Way

When two-time Roland Garros finalist Robin Soderling announced his retirement, it was not a surprise. The former World No. 4 had spent several years away from the game after having contracted mono back in 2011. Though Soderling made repeated attempts to return, he admitted that over-training during the early stages of his recovery actually did more harm than good. Away from the court, Soderling became a father and started a line of tennis equipment and accessories.

Here’s a look back at Soderling’s most famous win – that against Rafael Nadal at the 2009 French Open.

Happy New Year!

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One response to “Lowlights and Faults: The Worst of Tennis 2015

  1. Good rundown on an eventful year in tennis.