Has there ever been a fight on a tennis court?

It is no surprise that the sport of tennis has been known to get heated at times, with emotions running high as players battle it out on the court. However, has there ever been an actual fight between two players on the court? This article will examine the occasions where physical altercations have broken out on the court and the causes of such incidents.

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History of Tennis Fights

Tennis is a sport that has been around for hundreds of years and has seen its fair share of heated moments over the years. One of the earliest recorded incidents of a fight on the court dates back to the late 19th century, when, in 1895, a match between two players named Fred Hovey and Bullard ended in a physical altercation.

The McEnroe Era

While there were isolated incidents of fights on the court throughout the 20th century, it was not until the emergence of John McEnroe in the late 1970s that physical altercations seemed to become more frequent. McEnroe was known for his fiery temper and his willingness to argue with players, referees, and even fans. His most famous outburst came during a match against Swedish player Mats Wilander in 1984, when McEnroe smashed a tennis racket on the court and kicked a line judge in the leg.

Fights Outside of the McEnroe Era

It is not just McEnroe who has been involved in physical altercations on the court. In 2003, a match between Marat Safin and Jiri Novak ended with the two players getting into a physical altercation. This incident was the result of Safin’s frustration at a call that had gone against him, and after the two were separated by officials, Safin was disqualified from the match.

Causes of Fights

There are a few common causes for physical altercations on the court. Often, frustration and anger can lead to players lashing out, as was the case in the McEnroe and Safin incidents. Other times, two players may simply not get along and the tension between them can boil over into a physical altercation.

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Consequences of Fights

The consequences of a fight on the court can be serious. Players can be fined and/or suspended for their actions, which can have a serious impact on their career. In the case of McEnroe, he was fined a significant amount of money and was also handed a two-month suspension.

Preventing Fights

Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to prevent fights from occurring on the court. One of the most important things is for players to remain calm and to not let their emotions get the better of them. It is also important for referees to take action quickly if they see any signs of a potential altercation.

Rules for Fights

The rules for dealing with fights on the court vary from tournament to tournament. Generally, a player who is found to be at fault will be disqualified from the match and may also be fined or suspended. If the altercation is deemed to be particularly serious, the player may even be banned from the sport altogether.

Notable Fights

There have been a number of notable fights on the court over the years. Here is a list of some of the most memorable:

  • John McEnroe vs. Mats Wilander (1984): One of the most famous fights in tennis history, this altercation resulted in McEnroe being fined and suspended.
  • Marat Safin vs. Jiri Novak (2003): Safin was disqualified from the match and fined after getting into a physical altercation with Novak.
  • Nick Kyrgios vs. Stan Wawrinka (2015): Kyrgios was fined and suspended after an on-court outburst that included insulting Wawrinka.
  • Rafael Nadal vs. David Nalbandian (2011): This altercation resulted in both players being fined and suspended after Nalbandian kicked an advertising board that hit a line judge.


While a fight on a tennis court is a rare occurrence, it has happened on a few occasions. The causes of such altercations are mainly down to players letting their emotions get the better of them, and the consequences can be serious. It is important for players, referees, and tournament officials to take steps to prevent fights from occurring, and to take swift action if one does occur.