With the 2013 tennis season in the past, it's time to dole out our annual awards. Look for the winners—for better or worse—throughout this week on TENNIS.com. (To see what's been unveiled thus far, click here.)
The body serve can be a lethal weapon when administered by 6’8” Jerzy Janowicz. But when the man nicknamed “the Pole-veriser” exploded over a line call on set point at the Australian Open, he appeared in imminent danger of doing bodily harm to himself.
Dropping to his knees repeatedly raging “How many times? How many times?”, it seemed Janowicz might be in danger of rupturing a vocal cord, puncturing his ear drum, or blowing brain cells with the sheer volume of his wrath.
In a Melbourne meltdown that may join John McEnroe’s classic outbursts—“You Cannot Be Serious!” and “Answer my question! The question, jerk!”—in the lexicon of memorable rants, Janowicz went off the rails so thoroughly it looked like he was foaming at the mouth at one point. Actually, he was merely spitting at the sideline, convinced that Somdev Devvarman’s shanked forehand had missed the mark—and the linesman missed the call with Janowicz at 9-8 in the first-set tiebreaker.
Afterward, Janowicz summed up his outburst succinctly: “Actually, I went nuts,” he said. When asked if he had ever gone off the grid to this extreme extent before, he smiled and replied “yeah.” (If video of that transgression exists, please let us know.)
The silver lining of humor in this storm cloud of chaos came after Janowicz was hit with a code violation warning for unsportsmanlike conduct. He replied, “For what?” before downshifting into a more conversational tone and repeating his refrain to the chair umpire: “How many times you don’t see this ball? Tell me how many times?”
If you’ve spent any time pondering other eternal "how many" tennis questions—how many racquets has Marat Safin smashed; how many times has McEnroe argued; how many celebratory beers have been imbibed from the Davis Cup?—and find yourself wondering, exactly how many times does Janowicz utter “How many times?”, I counted seven, which includes his conversation with the chair umpire.
Remarkably, after this meltdown, Janowicz’s sunglasses didn't fog up from his fury, and he fought back from a two-set deficit for the first time in his career to win, 6-7 (10), 3-6, 6-1, 6-0, 7-5, and reach the third round of the Australian Open for the first time.
Asked if he surprised himself with his rant recovery, Janowicz suggested his descent into madness was just another day on the job.
“I'm really strange person, and anyway always I'm fighting till the end,” Janowicz said. “Even when I'm going nuts sometimes, I'm always trying to win no matter what.”
In addition to earning the coveted Outburst of the Year award, Janowicz also generated this hip-hop remix of his titanic tantrum: