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By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, September 14, 2023


Incensed by a call, Frances Tiafoe smashed his racquet and was docked a point penalty on match point sealing Tallon Griekspoor's three-set Davis Cup win.

Photo credit: Sanjin Strukic/Getty

An irate Frances Tiafoe turned match point to smash point—sealing The Netherlands win over the United States with racquet rage.

Incensed by a call, Tiafoe turned toward the court and smashed his Yonex racquet while down match point in the third-set tiebreaker.

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“Code violation, racquet abuse, point penalty USA,” chair umpire Richard Haigh announced as Tiafoe was grabbing a fresh stick from his bag. “Game, set, match Netherlands.”

Tiafoe's racquet-smashing meltdown brought a bizarre end to a ferocious three-set fight.

Tallon Griekspoor defeated Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7(7), 7-6(2) in a pulsating two hour, 31-minute drama on the hard court of the Arena Gripe, Sports Centre, Split, Croatia.

The Griekspoor win gave The Netherlands an insurmountable 2-0 lead over the United States clinching victory in the best-of-three-match Davis Cup tie.

Earlier, Botic van de Zandschulp won 13 of 19 second-serve points and did not face a break point topping Tommy Paul 7-6(2), 6-2.

Van de Zandschulp's one hour, 41-minute victory staked the Dutch to a 1-0 lead.

Credit Tiafoe for fighting back into the second singles match. Tiafoe unloaded a terrific running forehand pass crosscourt to deny a match point while serving at 4-5 in the decider.

That spirited stand helped Tiafoe hold and eventually drag the match into the third-set tiebreaker.

Griekspoor was the better player throughout the breaker and when Tiafoe bungled a volley into net, the Dutch had the mini-break and control.

Serving at 5-2 in the tiebreaker, Griekspoor pounded a slice serve down the T called out by the linesperson as a stretched Tiafoe flicked a forehand return into net.

The Netherlands challenged the call and replay showed the serve lanced the line.

Chair umpire Haigh ruled serve winner and point for Netherlands, rather than replaying the point, giving the Dutch match point at 6-2.

Tiafoe approached the chair umpire and referee arguing in a similar situation yesterday, the chair umpire ruled a replay of the point. For consistency sake, Tiafoe argued, the point should be replayed as it was the previous day.

The chair umpire disagreed despite protest from Tiafoe.

Wearing a orange baseball cap turned backwards, Griekspoor stood at the line ready to serve it out as Tiafoe protested his case to the chair umpire and referee.

A Tiafoe walked back to the court, he completely lost it bent over and hammered his Yonex racquet against the hard court four times in succession.

U.S. captain Bob Bryan, arms folded as the scene unfolded, wore the grim expression of a man who knew it was over. “Code violation, racquet abuse, point penalty USA,” chair umpire Haigh announced as Tiafoe was grabbing a fresh stick from his bag. “Game, set, match Netherlands.”

Tiafoe shook hands with Griekspoor and Dutch captain then continued to argue his case to the chair to no avail.

It’s a pity a gripping battle ended on such a sour, self-destructive note. Tiafoe drops to 0-2 on the week following his opening loss to Croatia's Borna Gojo. 

The Netherlands moves ahead to the top of the Group D Standings at 2-0, while the United States drops to 1-1 overall with a 2-3 record in matches played, which is a tiebreaker toward qualifying for the Davis Cup Finals in Malaga, Spain in November.

The USA can still qualify for the Elite Eight in Malaga, Spain when it faces Finland on Saturday.


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