Player vs. Umpire: Top 15 Most Heated Arguments in Tennis

Skye WinterContributor IIIApril 3, 2012

Player vs. Umpire: Top 15 Most Heated Arguments in Tennis

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    Tennis players are of a different species. We are perfectionists who believe we are great tennis players; heck, you have to believe that in order to play against the others who try to take you down.

    We are hard-headed for sure, so when a higher power calls down to us and says that we are wrong, or something of that nature, it is easy to respond with an "are you serious?".

    These videos are some of my favorite clips of players taking their frustration out on the umpires. Some are unforgettable and probably wish they could be forgotten by the umpires and lines people.

15. The Russian Temper

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    Vera Zvonareva is known for being dramatic on the tennis court. She demonstrated that quite efficiently during her 2009 US Open match against Flavia Panetta, which still ranks as one of the best women’s matches I have ever seen. The umpire said that she had read Vera's lips and saw her speak a profanity, and Vera’s argument was how could the umpire know what she had said if the umpire had not actually heard her say it in the first place. Good question. At the end of the match, she admitted to saying it to the umpire—quite comical nonetheless.

14. No, No, No, No. No

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    I like it when Rafa gets upset, and it is quite a remarkable scene when Rafael argues with the umpire. Rafael was right as he heard the ball being called out first before he played the ball. The hardest thing to do after something like that is to compose oneself, but Nadal’s mental toughness is nothing but stunning.

13. I Deserve a First Serve

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    In this 1996 US Open quarterfinal match with Pistol Pete against Alex Corretja, Pete hit a beautiful serve that was said to be a let. Pete argued that he should get a first serve after the delay. I defend Pete on this one. The umpire should have let him have a first serve.

12. The Bird Is the Word

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    Flavia Pennetta couldn’t keep her emotions bottled up in this Fed Cup match against Amelie Mauresmo. Her backhand down-the-line passing shot was indeed wide, but, in her mind, the ball was clearly on the line. She believed it to such an extent that as she went back to the baseline she flipped the umpire the bird.

11. Mind Your Feet

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    Serena Williams isn’t the only person who blows up when she is accused of foot faulting. In the 2010 US Open, Roddick gave a long speech to the lineswoman how it is impossible for his right foot to ever cross the line on a serve. Yes, it is true, but no need to drag it out.

10. The Worst Overrule Ever

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    In the US Open 2004 match-up with Serena Williams vs. Jennifer Capriati, Serena made a topnotch forehand down-the-line winner that was visibly in—obvious even to people watching from their television sets at home—but the umpire overruled and said it was out. Funny thing, Capriati saw that it was in and never spoke up.

    Note: Starts at 0:23

9. Count Your "Come Ons" Before They Make You Lose a Point

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    Serena Williams caused another scene during the US Open 2011 Finals against Sam Stosur.  The umpire took the point and gave it to Stosur without deciding it further. Intentional hindrance is “totally not cool” in my opinion. I found myself bursting out in laughter at Serena’s comments during the changeover.

8. "Don't Tell Me to Shut Up"

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    Roger Federer has always been known as a composed man who rarely has tiffs with umpires, but in the 2009 US Open Final against Juan Martin Del Potro his emotions got the best of him—and for  good reason. I believe that Federer was in the right on this issue. Players should not take so long to challenge and, that day, Delpo was taking forever to decide to challenge and the umpire was letting him get away with it.

    Plus, everyone knows, you never tell the King to “shut up”.

7. Marat Safin Blows Up Down Under

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    Marat’s words speak for themselves:

    "Charles, why are you overruling his balls? For what you overrule? If you are not sure then don't call it man! How are you going to be sure if the ball touches the line, how are you gonna be sure? You guys give me a warning, because I'm over then and I wanna see? Now you see what's gonna happen, I can't argue and you guys have got all the power! Of course the guy is hitting all the time, he can be smoking a cigar and he can also be sitting with two chicks but he has no clue about tennis!"

    Gotta love Safin’s way with words.

6. You Are Making Me Lose Control: Not in a Good Way!

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    Earlier this year in the Australian Open, a big controversy arose in the David Nalbandian vs. John Isner match. It was quite ridiculous to be honest. I’ve always liked Kader Nouni but this was major mistake on his part. Nalbandian had the momentum but after this “call affair” it came to a screeching halt. He went from winning to losing in no time flat.

5. Jumping Jimmy Showdown

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    In this 1991 US Open match with Jimmy Connors playing against Krickstein was definitely a dramatic one. Personally, my favorite part was when one of the commentators went “Uh-Oh” when Connors stalked to the umpire’s chair after his smash had been called out. Everyone knew what was coming…

4. Go Back to School Kids...You Could End Up as an Umpire!

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    Roddick is known for getting on umpire’s cases, but this was one match I will never forget. This dramatic match was Andy Roddick playing against Phillip Kohlschreiber at the 2008 Australian Open. I find these tirades funnier than anything from Roddick, but I’m sure I wouldn’t be laughing if I were the umpire.

3. "You Cannot Be Serious!"

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    We are all familiar with the “You cannot be serious” quote from none other than the most infamous hothead, John McEnroe. It has to be one of my favorite quotes. I have used it a few times in matches myself and it certainly adds drama! I wish I could have used the "chalk flew up" quote, but unfortunately that cannot be said for hard courts.

2. Jeff Tarango vs. Bruno Rebeuh

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    This is a pure TMC tennis moment. I wish I could have seen this match live with Jeff foaming at the mouth during his heated debate with Bruno Rebeuh. This is the best part of what happened, but the second best was when Tarango’s wife tracked down the umpire and slapped him in the face. Way to stick up for your man, Mrs. Tarango—no matter how wild he was.


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    How on earth could anyone forget this? Serena Williams took out all her frustration on a lineswoman after she had called a foot fault on Williams on match point versus Kim Clijsters in the 2010 US Open. The curses went flying through the air like tennis balls. I remember I was lying in bed watching this event fold out in front of me and the entire time I was laughing hysterically. I just couldn't believe what was happening! The managers of the event couldn't run out there any faster than they did.