Parental Advisory: Dmitry Tursunov, the world number 41 at tennis and one of the game’s elite at breaking frames, gives his tips on how to mangle a tennis racket.
“I don’t see why anyone would ever have a problem with players smashing rackets. There’s no big deal, is there? Imagine if Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are playing in the fifth set of Wimbledon. Federer had thought it was going to be easy, and he is annoyed, so he goes up to the net post with his racket, swinging away like a samurai warrior. The racket is in pieces. If Federer did that, that would become one of the most popular bits of footage ever. I think more of the top players should be encouraged to smash rackets. They are trying to show how intense and how passionate players are on court, and what better way to do that than smashing rackets on the court?”
Do not throw the racket.
“I think it’s best not to throw it. If you hold on to it, you feel more in control, it’s really you smashing the racket, you can feel it breaking, you can feel the vibrations and the force down your arm. Also, if you throw your racket across the court, and it doesn’t break, and there’s only a scratch on it, then you are going to feel like an idiot when you walk over to pick it up. If it looks like you want to break your racket, then you have to do it.”
Breaking a racket on grass earns you extra style points.
“I’m impressed with anyone who can break a racket on a grass court. That’s really manly. Even a girl can break their racket on a hard court. But doing it on grass, that’s difficult. You could just end up with a big divot in the grass. I remember doing it once on grass, when I was really pissed off, and it ended up sticking out of the grass like a spear. But I had to pretend that was what I wanted to do, and went over to tidy up the hole in the court. I had to do some gardening. Never show that you tried to break a racket and failed.”
Practice, practice, practice.
“I have broken countless rackets during my career. I remember going through one 10-day period, and this was just on the practice court and not the match court, when I broke about 10 or 15. That was a little crazy. But, if you are having a bad day, then it’s the best way to take out your frustrations. You’re not going to start throwing tennis balls at people. The nearest object to hand is your racket, and you know that it’s going to feel good when you break it. There have been a couple of times in matches when I have broken rackets on my knee. No, it wasn’t painful for my knee, just painful for the racket. That’s why you have to practise to get your racket-smashing right,” said Tursunov. “You don’t want to look stupid on the court. But I probably smash more rackets in practice than I do in matches. It’s almost better in matches, as you don’t get a fine, and also, in matches, if you break a racket that tells your opponent that things are getting to you. I go through stages of smashing rackets – it all depends on my mood and whether I am having a bad day on the court.”
Deal with the remorse.
“Afterwards, you feel a bit sorry that you’ve done it, and you’re like, ‘Yeah, I’ll make it up to you darling, my little racket’. But the racket is broken and you know that it’s never going to be the same again.”