SPORTS

Marcos' meltdown: Baghdatis smashes 4 rackets during tantrum at Australian Open

01/19/2012 12:12 EST | Updated 03/19/2012 05:12 EDT
MELBOURNE, Australia - Down two sets and a break, Marcos Baghdatis sat in his chair at the changeover and smashed his racket seven times until it was almost unrecognizable. He wasn't finished yet.

Baghdatis calmly gave the mangled racket to a ballboy, plucked a new one out of his bag and cracked that as well. The next two, he didn't even bother taking out of the plastic wrapping.

In all, the fiery Cypriot broke four rackets in a row during an Australian Open meltdown that earned him a $1,250 fine on Thursday.

His frustration released, Baghdatis went on to win the third set but lost the late-night match Wednesday 7-6 (3), 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 to Stanislas Wawrinka.

The racket rage was still the talk of Melbourne Park on Thursday.

"I didn't know he broke a racket, but I'm not surprised," Maria Sharapova said. "Personally I haven't broken too many in my career. Don't recall breaking one during a match. Have broken a couple at practice.

"But must be a good feeling. Just let it all go, I guess."

Baghdatis, who could have been fined up to $2000 for his outburst, joined a list of players who have also been penalized for breaking their rackets at the tournament, including John Isner, Alexandr Dolgopolov and Denis Istomin.

Donald Young, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Gilles Simon have been given $1,500 fines for audible obscenities.

Baghdatis wasn't alone in losing his cool on Wednesday.

After losing the fourth set of his marathon match against Isner, David Nalbandian threw his racket into a wall at Margaret Court Arena and was lucky it didn't rebound and hit a nearby linesperson.

A ballboy picked up the racket and gave it back, only for the unhappy Argentine to fling it into the crowd.

That wasn't the end of it, either. Nalbandian also angrily smashed his racket after netting a volley on match point and later verbally hit out at chair umpire Kader Nouni, who refused his request for a Hawk-eye challenge at break point at 8-8 in the fifth set because he had waited too long.

"I mean, it's ridiculous playing this kind of tournament with this kind of umpires," Nalbandian said. "I mean, can you be that stupid to do that in that moment?"

Nalbandian and Baghdatis still have some way to go before they can match former No. 1-ranked Marat Safin for racket-smashing prowess.

The 2005 Australian Open champion once estimated that he had destroyed about 700 in his 12-year career.

"Luckily I get them for free," said Safin, who recently won a seat in Russia's lower house of Parliament.

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