What is a Code Violation in Tennis? USA’s Frances Tiafoe loses again vs Netherlands in Davis Cup finals

Frances Tiafoe was on the receiving end of a code violation, in the Davis Cup, when his behaviour was deemed as a breach of the code of conduct. In elite sport, players often get lost in the heat of the moment and lash out in anger or frustration. Tennis, in particular, is a non-contact sport, which means players do not come in direct contact with one another. Yet, there are instances where athletes lose their composure and breach the ‘code of conduct’ guidelines set by the Association of Tennis Professionals(ATP).

The rules are set to ensure an order of play that is fair and sensitive to the officials involved in play. When players habitually cross the line and begin to throw things or break racquets, they are penalised.

What is a Code Violation in Tennis?

A code violation in tennis occurs when the player involved breaches the code of conduct set by the ATP. A variety of offences are classified under the rulebook. Based on the nature and severity of the offence, fines, point deductions, and in some extreme cases, forfeit of the match can be levied on the athlete. During the course of a match, the player will receive warnings before the extremity of the sanctions escalate.

The rulebook lists being on time, fulfilling media requirements and not swearing or throwing things as obligations for tennis players. If a player fails to adhere to the aforementioned rules, they will be issued with a code violation.

There are instances of famous elite players receiving code violations from the match officials. Serena Williams was slapped with a $17,000 fine for calling the umpire a “thief” and a “liar” in the 2018 US Open.

There are men out here who do a lot worse than me,” Serena said, “but, because I’m a woman, you are going to take this away from me? That is not right.”

“You stole a point from me, and you are a thief,” Williams told the official.

John McEnroe(swearing), Daniil Medvedev(throwing coins at the official) and Nick Kyrgios(throwing racquets) have all fallen under the observant eyes of the authorities and faced severe sanctions for their actions.

USA’s Frances Tiafoe loses in Davis Cup final to Netherlands

In the Davis Cup tie between USA’s Frances Tiafoe and Netherlands’ Tallon Griekspoor, the burly American was docked a match point for smashing his racquet on the tennis court.

The cause of his eruption was the previous point. In the final set tiebreak, Tallon sent a powerful serve down the line. Frances Tiafoe could only return the shot meekly into the net. The ball was called out and the Dutch player sent the call upstairs for a review. It was, in fact, on the line and the officials awarded the point to Tallon.

Frances Tiafoe was furious. He marched up the match official and stated that the call of out was yelled before he played his return shot, and asked for the point to be replayed. However, his efforts were in vain as the officials stood their ground.

This tipped Tiafoe’s mood over the line and he furiously rammed his racquet on the hard-court multiple times, until it was reduced to an unusable piece of junk.

The match officials deemed this a breech of the code of conduct and deducted a match point from Tiafoe’s game. The code violation levied on Tiafoe meant he lost his encounter with Tallon Griekspoor and Netherlands gained a 2-1 lead in Group D of the 2023 Davis Cup Finals.

“The end of the match is super unfortunate. A lot transpired there at the end with the call there at 5-2,” Tiafoe said after the match. “Obviously I could have responded in a better way but emotions are flying, I’m competing for my country, I really want to win. Broke a racquet there and I forgot I had a code violation earlier in the match, match is over. I gave it my all. It’s been a tough stretch for me over here in Croatia.”

What are your opinions on the code of conduct and code violations in tennis? Does it hinder a tennis player from expressing his emotions akin to how a football player could yell in anger and not be penalised for it? Let us know in the comments section below.


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