Mario Vilella Martínez played Tomislav Brkić today in the first round of the ATP Challenger in Shymkent, Kazakhstan. Vilella Martínez broke in the third set to go up 5-3. With a chance to serve out the match at 5-4, he lost the game at love. Then he lost the next return game and began to crack.
Vilella Martínez came fully undone after double-faulting three times in his final service game, then badly misfiring a forehand on match point. What followed was one of the most technically sound racket destructions ever seen. Note the meaty contact of those six smashes, and the shifting footwork that accompanies each strike. The clean ping of the racket against the fence is just the cherry on top.
The 23-year-old Spaniard is currently ranked No. 262 in the world. Being the 262nd-best in the world at a globally popular sport is generally a ticket to financial stability. In tennis, however, you can be ranked 262, having won 19 of your 33 matches this season, across 14 tournaments in seven countries, and still have just made $14,684 in prize money. Getting to the round of 32 at this event, which Vilella Martinez would have done with a victory today, pays out just $520. On some level it’s easy to understand why he channeled his frustration into his racket. But also—boy, did he huck that thing.
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