Roger Federer Rafael Nadal Australian Open 2022

Former WTA star brands Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s ‘fair’ sportsmanship ‘boring’

Whilst Anke Huber condemned the recent rise in racket abuse, she also believes tennis would “get boring” if everyone followed Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s pristine examples.

Since the turn of the new season, multiple high-profile players have caused controversy with their on-court behaviour.

In an attempt to reduce the amount of dangerous incidents, the ATP launched a review of their rules and regulations as well as their disciplinary processes.

The first major incident came at the Australian Open when US Open winner Daniil Medvedev began an irate tirade against the chair umpire.

Then, in February World number five Alexander Zverev was defaulted from the Mexican Open for striking the chair umpire’s stand four times. He received numerous penalties and was placed under an eight-week suspended ban.

Multiple incidents also occurred throughout the ‘Sunshine Double.’ Both Jenson Brooksby and Nick Kyrgios threw their rackets in anger and both almost struck ball-boys. Over the two events, Kyrgios was fined twice for five separate offences.

On the opposite side, Grand Slam legends Federer and Nadal have developed the reputations of being fair and sportsmanlike whenever they grace the courts.

In an interview with Eurosport Germany, former World number four Huber was asked about the recent increase in racket abuse offences.

She answered, “I was always very emotional on the court, but I never projected that onto the referee, only onto myself.

“John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors used to make it quite normal for the referee to be attacked.

“Later we had this phase with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who always behaved sportsmanlike and very fairly. But, if everyone just looks straight ahead and doesn’t make a peep, it gets boring.”

Speaking more specifically about Zverev’s expulsion, Huber said “I don’t think emotions are bad, but they mustn’t be insulting and must remain within certain limits.

“If it gets too much, you shouldn’t take the boys apart right away. With Zverev in Acapulco it was extreme, yes. Nobody liked seeing that.

“In my eyes, however, this isn’t his true face. He’d played until five in the morning the day before. Sometimes you have to look at the circumstances because he was certainly physically drained. But that’s no excuse.”

She then attributed such displays to upbringing, saying “the whole thing is also due to our free way of bringing up children.

“That is reflected on the pitch [court]. The respect has become less – but that’s a general problem. The question is how the associations will handle this. You can’t allow certain behaviours like that. A limit must be set!”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.