The great champions are different. John McEnroe had a similar fiery temperament, but his situational judgment was better. He could usually remain somewhat rational even in the throes of emotionality. Because at some deep level he sensed he was going to win, he could comprehend where the line demarcating disaster was and control himself just well enough to avoid crossing it. He got into emotional twits where he made unreasonable demands, berated umpires, and threw matches into confusion, but he usually benefited from this. He intimidated linesmen into giving him the benefit on close calls, put his opponents off their games, and stimulated himself with adrenaline and often (but not always) played better.
One year he did manage to get himself defaulted in the Australian Open, but he said later that he had been unaware of a recent rule change where the authorities had cut down by one the number of abuses a player was allowed before default. The progression had formerly been “warning,” “point penalty,” “game penalty,” “DEFAULT,” but this had been changed to “warning,” “point penalty,” “DEFAULT.” McEnroe simply miscalculated and thought he could afford one more penalty. In contrast to Tarango, McEnroe may sometimes have looked like an irrational wild man, but all the while he was carefully counting his penalties so that he could stop himself before he went too far. McEnroe didn’t often forget his own best interests.
McEnroe was cunning in other ways about expressing his frustration and anger. He knew cursing umpires would lead to code violations. So instead he would say things like, “You are so low that words can’t describe how low I think you are!” Of course this is every bit as insulting and hurtful as cursing, but it made the code violation difficult to pin on him.