"Presenting the Professional's Guide to Breaking Tennis Rackets. "Smashing a tennis racket is like having rough sex. When the racket breaks, it feels almost orgasmic. You know, some rackets just like it rough," said Dmitry Tursunov, a Californian-based Russian. "Afterwards, you feel a bit sorry that you've done it, and you're like, 'Yeah, I'll make it up to you darling, my little racket'. But the racket is broken and you know that it's never going to be the same again."
There is something about Russians and violent feelings towards tennis rackets. But it is important to get it right.
Even Marat Safin, a frame-busting legend, has a few rules: "You can destroy one racket. You can destroy a chair. But you can't destroy a racket and a chair in the same match. There has to be a limit. Otherwise this is the tennis of a sick person."
And Mikhail Youzhny became a star on the Youtube website this year when he bashed his racket against his own head with enough force to draw blood. Self-inflicted wounds are not that sensible either. But Tursunov, the world No 31, has passed on the inside guide on how to trash rackets with style, even if he is about as politically correct as a love-child of Jeremy Clarkson and a brigadier's wife.
Tursunov, who has twice reached the fourth round at Wimbledon, said that players should be encouraged to break rackets, that tennis should match 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' for blood and gore. "I don't see why anyone would ever have a problem with players smashing rackets. There's no big deal, is there? Imagine if Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are playing in the fifth set of Wimbledon. Federer had thought it was going to be easy, and he is annoyed, so he goes up to the net post with his racket, swinging away like a samurai warrior. The racket is in pieces.
"If Federer did that, that would become one of the most popular bits of footage ever. I think more of the top players should be encouraged to smash rackets. They are trying to show how intense and how passionate players are on court, and what better way to do that than smashing rackets on the court?" But the umpires will see things a bit differently; as bashing and biffing your racket is against the rules (in reality, though, it's everyone's guilty pleasure). Tennis does sex; it also does violence.
Tursunov, putting on his teacher's hat, advises amateur racket-smashers not to fling their rackets across the court. If you do that, you will deny yourself half the fun of it. "I think it's best not to throw it. If you hold on to it, you feel more in control, it's really you smashing the racket, you can feel it breaking, you can feel the vibrations and the force down your arm. Also, if you throw your racket across the court, and it doesn't break, and there's only a scratch on it, then you are going to feel like an idiot when you walk over to pick it up. If it looks like you want to break your racket, then you have to do it," said Tursunov, the tennis world's answer to Will Ferrell (he looks and behaves much like the American actor).
Cracking a frame on a grass court earns you extra style points. "I'm impressed with anyone who can break a racket on a grass court. That's really manly. Even a girl can break their racket on a hard court. But doing it on grass, that's difficult. You could just end up with a big divot in the grass. I remember doing it once on grass, when I was really pissed off, and it ended up sticking out of the grass like a spear. But I had to pretend that was what I wanted to do, and went over to tidy up the hole in the court. I had to do some gardening. Never show that you tried to break a racket and failed."
Players practise their serves, their volleys and their groundstrokes; perhaps they should also practise their racket-abuse. "I have broken countless rackets during my career. I remember going through one 10-day period, and this was just on the practice court and not the match court, when I broke about 10 or 15. That was a little crazy. But, if you are having a bad day, then it's the best way to take out your frustrations. You're not going to start throwing tennis balls at people. The nearest object to hand is your racket, and you know that it's going to feel good when you break it. There have been a couple of times in matches when I have broken rackets on my knee. No, it wasn't painful for my knee, just painful for the racket. That's why you have to practise to get your racket-smashing right," said Tursunov.
"You don't want to look stupid on the court. But I probably smash more rackets in practice than I do in matches. It's almost better in matches, as you don't get a fine, and also, in matches, if you break a racket that tells your opponent that things are getting to you. I go through stages of smashing rackets - it all depends on my mood and whether I am having a bad day on the court."