26 November 2000
BBC Sport Online's Mark Jolly was courtside to witness Goran Ivanisevic's bizarre elimination from the Samsung Open in Brighton. Even in the tempestuous career of Goran Ivanisevic, being forced to withdraw from a tournament because he had smashed all his rackets is a first. But that is exactly what happened to the big-serving Croat, who was forced to withdraw from his second round match at the Samsung Open in Brighton for that very reason. Both tournament supervisor Gerry Armstrong and referee Alan Mills confirmed this was the first time this had ever happened at a senior ATP event.
Ivanisevic clearly showed little foresight when he went on court for his match against Korea's Hyung-Taik Lee with only three of his favourite Head Prestige Classic 600 rackets. The first went at the vital stage of the first set, when the Croat dropped serve to give Lee a 6-5 lead. He smashed it on the court and hit furiously hit a ball into the crowd. He was given a code violation for equipment abuse as he walked back to his seat for the changeover and dumped the racket in a handily-placed wastebin.
Lee went on to hold serve and take the first set 7-5 but a seemingly-calm Ivanisevic pulled himself together to level at one set all after winning the tie-break 7-5. But his temper got the better of him at the start of the third set and after missing break points at 1-1 he gave another a thrashing on the ground.
The crafty Croat has been there before. He knows he will only be given a code violation for breaking the racket. If he plays on for another point with a cracked racket he can get away with it. This he did, and racket number two, price £179.99, went in that bin at the end of the game. In the next game he served a double fault to take him to 15-40 and there was no holding back. Into the bin with number three. Another code violation, and this time a point deducted.
Now Ivanisevic knew he had gone too far. He called for event supervisor Gerry Armstrong. "Gerry, I have no more rackets left." Armstrong said: "I asked him if there was any chance of finding another one in the time available, which would have been three or four minutes. "I wondered if his doubles partner Ivan Ljubicic had one he could use in his locker. He said that Ljubicic used Slazenger and they were no good to him.
"I announced to the spectators that he could not carry on because of lack of appropriate equipment. That was something that came to my mind on the spur of the moment."
The frustration had clearly been building in Ivanisevic. During his first round match against Gianluca Pozzi on Wednesday he harangued a lineswoman who reported him to the umpire for swearing. When he was given a code violation for verbal abuse, he shouted at the lineswoman: "What is your problem? Is it all the weight, eh?" Afterwards, he explained: "When I was young at school I hated the spies who would go to the teacher and tell them about something I had done. It was like that with this woman."