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“We Were, Like, Best Friends in Middle School”: Tennis’ Notable Feuds

This week, a friendship was almost destroyed and a new feud almost rose from its ashes.  The seemingly flawless camaraderie between Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki was apparently on the rocks according this tweet by Serena:

Fortunately, the Woz found it in her heart to forgive Serena of whatever it was, and this feud ended almost as quickly as it started.

So, where does this feud rank in regards to other iconic tennis feuds? Well, I have devised a system ranking feuds from one to 10. One being, “We’re cool because this was a practice match,” and 10 being “I want to smash my racquet into your face.” This particular feud’s level is at a paltry “one.” Mostly, because it’s probably fake, and it’s akin to an argument with your best friend from the second grade.

Let’s take a look at some recent tennis conflicts and see where they rank on this highly sophisticated ranking system.

1. Ana Ivanovic vs. Jelena Jankovic

Feud Level: 9

This falling-out had everything. Angry mom? Check. Nation’s pride on the line? Check.  Shady guilt-inducing public statements? Check. Though the two weren’t always on the best of terms as they battled it out for number one, tensions peaked in 2010.  After Ivanovic decided not to show up at a crucial Fed Cup match to relax and have coffee with her boyfriend (ALLEGEDLY), Jankovic’s mother went off:

“Jelena missed only one match for Serbia in 10 years. This time she flew 48 hours across the world to play, despite a serious injury. At the same time, somebody else had coffee somewhere while my child played, hurting for her country.” (The Daily Mail)

This is the “in real life version” of a Twitter indirect. Hashtag subtweet. While not ever calling Ivanovic by name, she calls her out while simultaneously painting a sympathetic picture of her daughter. Jelena was hurting for her country while Ana decided to take a break! Mama Jankovic is clearly a professional at talking smack. It’s one thing to not show up to a crucial event, but being pictured hanging out with your boyfriend makes it a whole lot worse. Here’s a tip Ivanovic, don’t go the Sam Smith route when not showing up to important events.  Fortunately, Jankovic decided to make a classy statement in regards to the whole fiasco.

“It would have been nice even if Ana had just been sitting on the bench and supporting the team, even if she felt she could not play.” (The Daily Mail)

Though the two have decided forgive and forget, this feud is the weirdest and most entertaining on the list.

2. Victoria Azarenka vs Aga Radwanska

Feud level: 6

One match turned this regular ol’ tennis rivalry into a war of words. During the 2012 Doha semifinals, Azarenka seemingly sprained her ankle, received treatment and limped across the court over the duration of the match. Despite this, Azarenka still managed to beat Radwanska in two sets. Radwanska was visibly pissed after the match, and decided to fire the first shots:

“I was angry because I don’t think this is the great image for the women’s tennis, what was going on there.” (ESPN)

“I think after this match [I] just lost a lot of respect. If you do this in the match, if anyone didn’t see the match, I think it’s just a quick look on YouTube and you’ll know what was going on.” (Sydney Morning Herald)

After all of the media hype around the story, Azarenka decided to send out a shady, indirect tweet that is speculated to be a response to Radwanska.

Following a 6-0, 6-2 win over Radwanska in the quarterfinals of Indian Wells later that year, the Belarusian fired back in a more formal setting.

“I hope I was a good example of women’s tennis.” (ESPN)

Though Azarenka won on the court, indirect tweets can sometimes backfire. As one philosopher on Tumblr once said, “the @ feature is free hunty.”

3. Tomas Berdych vs. Nicolas Almagro

Feud level: 5

This feud was born after Almagro attempted to take Berdych’s life (ALLEGEDLY) during their 2012 Australian Open match. After winning the match, Berdych decided not to shake Almagro’s hand, leading to jeers and boos from the crowd. After the extremely negative reaction to Berdych’s decision from the media and fans, he apologized for his actions but still insisted they were both in the wrong:

“What happened from Nico was not what should be happening in tennis. Maybe we both made a mistake, so it’s even and that’s it.” (BBC)

Berdych ended up losing to Almagro’s fellow Spaniard, Rafael Nadal, in the quarterfinals, but the feud still persisted throughout the year. Before the Davis Cup final, Berdych called Almagro a “weak point” on a strong Spanish team. Berdych ended up beating Almagro in a five-set battle, and the feud has fizzled out since.

Have a favorite tennis feud that’s not listed here? Sound off in the comments!

2 Comments on “We Were, Like, Best Friends in Middle School”: Tennis’ Notable Feuds

  1. Jeff Donaldson // October 12, 2014 at 3:36 am // Reply

    Um, I thought Bouchard-Robson would be a clear choice for this list! Level 7 at least. Early Federer-Djokovic is also noteworthy.


  2. Davenport/Hingis vs. Williams/Williams surely ranks as an eleven. #formaleducation


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