Tennis-Nalbandian joins tennis 'hall of shame'


Sun, 17 Jun 23:25:00 2012

No matter what David Nalbandian achieves in his career, it is unlikely he will ever forget a moment of madness that left a linesman bloodied, an angry crowd feeling short-changed and an opponent bewildered.

The Argentine has long had a reputation for being a hot-head and 10 years after being thrown out of the Vina del Mar tournament in Chile for hurling a torrent of verbal abuse at a linesman, he was disqualified from the Queen's Club final on Sunday for injuring a line judge.

A decade ago when Nalbandian exploded after a line call went against him, the incident went largely unnoticed since he was then a little-known 20-year-old yet to make his mark on the international stage.

But the 2002 Wimbledon finalist had no smoke screen to hide behind on Sunday when he lashed out in front of 12,000 fans and millions of television viewers.

Nalbandian was leading 7-6 3-3 in the Queen's final against Marin Cilic but, after being broken in the seventh game, a red mist descended over the Argentine and he slammed his right foot into a wooden advertising board which disintegrated and created a nasty gash on linesman Andrew McDougall's left leg.

A shocked McDougall yelled and instantly clutched his leg. When he rolled up his beige trousers, blood was trickling down his shin.

As soon as tournament supervisor Tom Barnes saw the extent of the injury, Nalbandian was given his marching orders.

"Once I saw the injury...I didn't have any other option," Barnes, who has been an ATP tournament supervisor for 22 years, told reporters.

Asked if he had ever seen an official injured so badly by the actions of a player, he added with a wry smile: "No, I can't say I have. I think the other times it's been less bloody."

Coincidentally, Barnes was also the official in charge who defaulted Nalbandian in 2002.

Tournament director Chris Kermode added: "Anyone who saw was very clear. It was sort of a red card in football. You're off."

The problem was the some sections of the crowd, who had been sitting behind the linesman, would not have seen the 30-year-old's act of petulance and could not understand why the final, which according to Cilic was "just starting to hot up", was abruptly halted.

The fans booed, whistled and chanted "play on" but it was match over.


"David certainly did not mean for this to happen, however, the rules are very clear in a situation like this and causing injury to someone is an automatic default for any player," Brad Drewett, ATP executive chairman and president, said.

While Croatian Cilic summed up the episode as something that "isn't going to happen (again) in next 100 years", Nalbandian was left to join a long list of luminaries in tennis's 'hall of shame'.

Serena Williams and John McEnroe are two high-profile members of the 'defaulters' club' but the Americans both got into trouble for injuring the sensitivities of officials with their colourful language rather than causing any bodily harm.

Britain's Tim Henman is also an offender, having been bounced out of a Wimbledon men's doubles match after accidentally hitting a ball girl in a fit of anger.

However, when it comes to players who have been defaulted twice, the club gets even more exclusive - with Andre Agassi being one of its few incumbents.

For Nalbandian, the penalties are starting to pile up as it was only five months ago that he was slapped with an $8000 fine for throwing water over an Australian Open official - an accusation he denied - following a controversial second-round defeat.

He now faces a fine of up to $10,000 despite already forfeiting his prize money (at least $56,800) and ranking points for the week.

"I know (what) I did (is) a mistake, 100 percent. I feel very sorry for the guy. I didn't want to do that. But sometimes you get angry and you cannot control those moments," said Nalbandian.

He also lashed out at the men's governing body during the presentation ceremony, suggesting the ATP does not look after player interests, which left observers wondering if Nalbandian could be slapped with an additional fine or even banned from the tour.

"I think you have to give the guy a chance to let off some steam there. I mean, he didn't intend to do what he did," Barnes added. "He intended to kick the box but he did not intend to hurt the guy.

"When he realised that he had, he felt bad. Then when he realised the consequences of that, he felt even worse."


Comment 1 - 7 of 7

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  1. A very talented player & an accident but if he had­ any sense it would never have happened

    From Denny, on Mon 18 Jun 14:27
  2. Throw the book at him. He is in denial and his actions­ need to be punished in the most severe of forms­ otherwise it gives a green light to players in future­ not to mention kids watching this behaviour and­ thinking its ok. If there is ever the need for an­ Argentine to conduct himself in the most professional­ of manner, its now.

    From Dave, on Mon 18 Jun 11:56
  3. What he did was not a very good advert for Argentina­ just when they are trying to show the world they are­ something different than they really are. And he did­ not even remember the 'first law of holes'-­ when you are in one you stop digging. He just went on­ digging it deeper and deeper and deeper- sorry but it­ was everybody elses fault as well. Oh dear. And even­ the Head of Queens when he was interviewed blamed the­ ATP- and the ATP representative at the match was about­ as articulate as G W Bush. Only Andrew Castle and Sue­ Barker had any real grasp on the situation.

    From James, on Mon 18 Jun 11:20
  4. Nalbandian has come across as a thug...all these­ excuses he and people are making about not meaning to­ injure the linesman. He still intended to hit­ something so close to someone that would in itself be­ very intimidating and frightening. Who does he think­ he is?? Then many in the crowd booing the decision­ like that and wanting the decision reversed..not really­ on... I was hoping they wouldn't reverse it. He­ had to be punished for such behaviour.

    From joan, on Mon 18 Jun 11:13
  5. Whether he intended to hurt the official is not the­ point - the fact is that he had a temper moment and­ kicked really hard at the box which was directly in­ front of and very close to the guy's legs. ­ It's obvious that some damage would ensue. These­ guys get paid a huge amount to play in these matches,­ and to lose your temper like that that is not an­ option. It's just a price of the fame and riches­ that go with playing sport for a (very substantial)­ living.

    From foureyes, on Mon 18 Jun 9:53
  6. come on davids manager-wise cannot injure an­ innocent official,act innocent,blame the governing body­ and expect to carry on up and accept­ responsibility for unacceptable behaviour.nalbandian­ seems to be in denial.

    From LINDA, on Mon 18 Jun 0:16
  7. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    The attitude of the british referee was self righteous,­ cowardly and way over the top! it would not have happen­ this way in France or Spain, ATP or not ATP. if David­ actually wanted to hurt the line judge then a default­ would be warranted. However he was clearly not trying­ to hurt the line judge. therefore they should have­ given him a fine + a few penalty points. If Federer or­ Nadal had done this they wou;d have given them the­ benefit of the doubt because of who they are. I do not­ defend David's stupid act done in a moment of­ anger. But I am against over the top reaction driven by­ referees who obey blindly to rules which as any rules­ must be interpreted based on circumstances. The ATP­ should revise its rules. A roumanian player got abused­ (in a racist way) by a bunch of drunck spectators at­ Wimbledon, but he was clearly not Febeder and the chair­ empire nor the tournament referee did anything for him.­ In fact , he got penalised for speaking back to the­ abusive spectators and lost the match when he was­ clearly ahead. Let's compare this to Footbal­ where players or entire matches are very rarely stopped­ even if they should for exemple for racist abuse. Come­ on, be real referees! and ATP revise your rules!­ Scandal!!!!! in France or Spain the referees woudl­ have been overturned by the public. The public is­ always right in these kind of cases.

    From , on Sun 17 Jun 23:51
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