While players like Roger Federer bask in near-universal adoration, not all players are as fortunate.
There are players who, rather than earning applause, often find themselves in the crosshairs of fan frustration and, at times, the recipients of outright hatred.
Here are the 10 most hated tennis players of all time.
10. Lukas Rosol
Remember when Andy Murray said “No-one likes you on the tour, everyone hates you” to Lukas Rosol? Those words say more than you need to know.
Here’s the clip:
Lukas Rosol did have a lot of on-court outbursts and arguments with umpires, but not as much as other players on this list. However, it’s mainly his unsportsmanlike behavior on the tennis court that has made not only fans but also pro players to dislike him.
He loved to play mind games with his opponents and did everything he could to get them off-guard. Rosol did not just clinch with Andy Murray, but also one of the all-time greats Rafael Nadal.
Nadal is known for his routines and especially with his water bottles, they need to be in the same place for some reason. Rosol knew that and knocked one of his bottles down to annoy Nadal.
That didn’t sit well with Nadal and his fans.
In another match, Rosol also bumped into Nadal during a changeover, an incident that Nadal later mentioned in a press conference as unsportsmanlike behavior.
Whether or not you’re a Nadal or Murray fan, it’s just so hard to like Lukas Rosol.
9. Robin Söderling
Robin Söderling, known for his powerful game and defeating Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009, faced a lot of criticism during his career for his on-court demeanor. Not only fans but also players perceived him as arrogant and unsportsmanlike.
He didn’t have many friends on tour, and overall, he had a very strained relationship with most pro players.
If you ask Rafael Nadal which player he dislikes the most, I can guarantee that that answer would be Robin Söderling. And it’s not because he beat him at the French Open.
Here’s why Nadal hated Robin Soderling:
Let’s face it, if you’re disliked by one of the most loved players of all time, you will get hated by his fans.
Apart from his beef with Nadal, he constantly got into heated arguments with the umpire and other people in the stadium.
8. Andy Roddick
When it comes to Andy Roddick, it feels as though there are two distinct personas sharing the same name. Off-court Roddick, the charismatic charmer, versus his on-court counterpart who often stirs controversy.
Off the court, Roddick is known for his congenial personality and sharp wit. He’s engaging and personable, he’s the kind of guy who can light up a room with his humor, making everyone feel at ease. This Roddick is relatable and easy to like.
However, on the court, Roddick is all business. His temper is notorious, as is his propensity for engaging in heated disputes with officials.
His tendency to focus energy on disputes, rather than on the subtle ballet of tennis, has left many fans, particularly his fellow Americans, feeling frustrated.
It feels like Andy Roddick’s energy is often spent disputing rather than focusing on his game, and it’s very hard for fans to cheer for a player like that.
7. Mikael Ymer
Known in Sweden as much for his cocky persona as his tennis, Mikael Ymer is quite a controversial figure. His audacious antics on court, like smashing a racquet on an umpire’s chair, certainly raise eyebrows, and not in a good way.
The audacity to liken himself to titans like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, despite his lack of success on the ATP Tour, furthers the perception of arrogance.
Also, his refusal to play tournaments in his home country, unless paid a significant sum of money, has caused quite an uproar. This has not only strained his relationship with local organizers but it’s also left a sour taste in the mouths of his once-loyal fanbase.
Consequently, he’s become something of a tennis villain at home, with many Swedes eagerly cheering for his competitors.
Ask any Swedish tennis fan – nobody likes Mikael Ymer.
Here’s Mikael Ymer smashing his racquet on the Umpire’s chair.
If more people knew who Mikael Ymer was, he would have been higher on this list. He’s by far the least successful player listed in this article.
6. Nikoloz Basilashvili
Step into the world of Georgian tennis player, Nikoloz Basilashvili, and you’ll find a mix of prowess on the court and controversy off it.
Basilashvili has been under the shadow of domestic violence allegations, which naturally brings with it a cloud of disapproval and skepticism.
Apart from that, his somewhat aloof manner can be off-putting, leading to a wave of negative sentiment among both spectators and his peers on the tour.
That said, he rarely argues with the umpire and doesn’t do anything bad on the court (apart from not showing any emotions – boring!).
It just goes to show that a player’s actions off the court can influence their public perception just as much as their performance on it.
5. Bernard Tomic
Imagine being a tennis player with all the skills to make it big, but instead, you end up being notorious for all the wrong reasons. That’s the story of Bernard Tomic.
He often gives off a “couldn’t care less” vibe during matches, which irks fans who expect passion and drive from professional athletes.
His off-the-cuff comments in the media don’t help his case either. And let’s not forget his brushes with the law – they just add fuel to the fire of dislike among tennis fans.
Tomic is a notorious tanker, when things don’t go his way, he just doesn’t care anymore.
Here’s a video of Bernard Tomic tanking in an official ATP match.
4. Novak Djokovic
Despite being the greatest player of all time, Novak Djokovic has faced his share of criticism and dislike from certain sections of tennis fans.
While he’s known to have crazy outbursts on the tennis court, it’s not the reason why he’s so hated. It’s more about his off-court behavior.
Remember the Adria Tour debacle during the COVID-19 pandemic? That didn’t do him any favors. His stand against vaccines has also raised eyebrows.
His non-traditional medical beliefs are very controversial and it has drawn a considerable wave of backlash his way. For instance, he’s an advocate for alternative medicine, which includes things like telepathy and water memory, concepts that are considered pseudoscience by the scientific community
Then there’s his attitude – some find it lacks the grace and humility of Federer and Nadal. All these elements combined create a cocktail of opinions that isn’t always easy to swallow.
Djokovic is one of the most loved, but also one of the most hated tennis players of all time.
3. John McEnroe
John McEnroe, a legend of the game, is also infamous for his fiery temper and frequent outbursts on the court.
While his talent and contribution to tennis are unquestionable, his volatile personality often stole the limelight, attracting both fascination and ire from fans.
His fiery temper was like a double-edged sword, adding an element of drama that was as likely to enthrall fans as it was to provoke their disapproval.
Even today, the mention of McEnroe is as likely to bring up memories of his brilliant game as it is his blazing outbursts.
Here’s a video of him going absolutely crazy at the umpire:
2. Nick Kyrgios
A common phrase among Kyrgios fans is “You either love or hate him”. But I would say most people love and hate him just as much.
He’s undoubtedly one of the most entertaining players to watch, attracting many fans. But his foolish behavior on the tennis court also draws hate, despite it adding an extra layer of excitement to the game.
If you ask me, I love and hate him just as much! Kyrgios is great for the sport, and part of that is because he’s one of the most hated players on the ATP Tour.
His on-court behavior is often at the heart of this sentiment, with volatile outbursts, instances of perceived lack of effort, and a seemingly dismissive attitude towards opponents and officials, all contributing to his controversial standing.
I watch almost every match that Kyrgios plays, and I can’t recall a single match where he hasn’t had an argument with the umpire.
His worst incident happened at the Italian Open in 2019. He left the game mid-match after throwing chairs into the tennis court (yes he’s crazy).
Here’s the video:
1. Alexander Zverev
The German superstar Alexander Zverev is, by far, the most hated tennis player of all time. There are so many reasons why that is, but these are the main reasons:
- Domestic abuse allegations
- Volatile behavior on the tennis court
Let’s start with the domestic abuse allegations:
The allegations of domestic abuse against Alexander Zverev stem from his former partner, Olga Sharypova.
She has publicly accused Zverev of engaging in both physical and emotional abuse throughout their relationship. Sharypova detailed multiple instances of physical violence, including claims of being choked and hit with a pillow in 2019.
Zverev, for his part, has firmly denied these serious allegations and he faced no actions due to lack of evidence.
The ATP post a lot of videos with the top players asking them questions like, “who got the best backhand?” “best forehand?” “best serve?”, etc. Zverev became a meme after being the only player to say their own name to basically every question.
Here’s a video about it (a must watch!):
Sure, he’s one of the best players in the world, but come on, this is just arrogance at its finest. Fans love humbleness and Zverev is everything but humble.
Volatile Behaviour on the tennis court
Alexander Zverev has shown volatility on the tennis court on several occasions. This includes instances of him smashing his racquet, arguing with umpires, etc.
The worst incident occurred in Acapulco 2022, after a bad call from the umpire (according to Zverev), he smashed his racquet into the umpire’s chair. It’s insane. (see video above)
He got defaulted from the tournament and got a $40,000 fee from the ATP. But seriously, how in the world did he not get banned from competing for at least a couple of months? It doesn’t get much worse than this.
If Zverev’s unpopularity was previously a mystery to you, now you might understand why he’s so incredibly unlikable.