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"I threw it," Collins recalls. "I didn't realize it would have a life of its own. It bounced over the fence. A parking lot was there. A guy was getting out of his car. It hit him."
|C'mon Mardy ... you know you want to ... do it for the people!|
|Marat Safin's racket tantrums are legendary.|
As a result, Kim explains, racket-breakers often will play a point with a busted frame. "Sometimes you might win those points," he says with a smile. "Sometimes if you crack it, it's still playable." To avoid the above indignities, Kim adds, he limits his smashing to practice. Good for his temper. Bad for our amusement. No matter the cause, the decline in public racket pulverizing is a shame. And probably unhealthy. Frustrated tennis players can't vent to their teammates. Or scream at their coach. Tackling isn't allowed, and haranguing the chair umpire only goes so far. So they steam and stew, each one a pressure cooker in wristbands. Angry player. Highly breakable object. Something has to give. Playing in San Diego, Taylor Dent once lost to someone named Maurice Ruah. Not good. "I walk off the court, line up all my rackets on a tree," recalls Dent, pantomiming a baseball swing. "One after another, six in a row, until there was nothing left. I just left them there. See you later. See you tomorrow." Did Dent feel better? Absolutely. Always does. During a March tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., he dropped a 6-1 first set to Cyril Saulnier. Dent blamed his racket. Forcefully. Racket wrecked and spleen vented, he rallied to win the match. "It can help you play better," he says. "John McEnroe was the perfect example. He would throw the racket sometimes, throw a tantrum, and it would help him out." More help: While most junked rackets end up in the trash, Dent signs his, then donates them to charity. All's well that ends well. "That's why I do it," he says with a laugh. In another sense, crumpled frames bring fans and pros together, physical manifestations of our common immaturity. The average club player can't relate to Roddick's Teutonic serves, Agassi's whiplash reflexes, Federer's otherworldly touch. But racket smashing? That's as natural as throwing a golf club. When Borg broke a racket as a boy, his parents kept him off the court for six months. He never cracked one again. His famed temperament? It was learned. "I play tennis, and I've broken some rackets," Munnerlyn says. "Sometimes, I'm about to and I catch myself. I think, 'Hey, I don't get free rackets like [the pros].'" None of us does. Which is part of what makes their newfangled restraint so infuriating. Psychic Uri Geller bent a racket with his mind. Nadal can't crush one with his pumped-up arms? Thankfully, the U.S. Open junior tournament starts next week. So there's hope. In the meantime, though, we're still waiting for a handle-shattering, shard-scattering eruption. Because when the best racket-smashing story from this year's tournament belongs to Collins -- well, it's enough to make a fan want to break something. "What I'd like to see is somebody tear one apart with their bare hands," Collins says. "With wood, you'd have a chance." Wait. Hold up. Tear a racket to pieces? By hand? Now that would be pretty sweet. Patrick Hruby is a Page 2 columnist.