Does Rafael Nadal cheat?
Quite a headline, but does Rafael Nadal cheat and break tennis rules? I watched his game yesterday in Monte Carlo and found him frequently exceeding the 25 second limit for time between points. His average quoted by Leif Shiras was ’30 seconds’ which means he can take a lot more time than 30 seconds between points.
The ATP rules state the following
i) 25 Seconds Between Points.
ii) aa) Start stopwatch when the player is ordered to play or when the ball goes out of play. bb) Assess time violation or code violation if the ball is not struck for the next point within the twenty-ﬁ ve (25) seconds allowed. There is no time warning prior to the expiration of the twenty-ﬁ ve (25) seconds.
iii) ii) Changeover (Ninety (90) Seconds) and Set Break (One Hundred and Twenty (120) Seconds).
Despite the repeated offences from Nadal in this game he was not given a warning from the umpire. The umpire did not deem that Nadal’s behaviour was excessive. So given that it is the responsibility of the umpire to call players on their fouls surely Nadal was not in breach on any rules? Take for example the All Blacks are frequently found to be pushing the rules to their benefit without actually breaking them. Some would debate this as they constantly seem to be on the thin line between legal and illegal. This professional fouling takes place in many sports like the sticky bottles in cycling.
With another player then perhaps the umpire may not have been as lenient.
Nadal has a presence on court. He is the clay court king and by his mere presence affect proceedings. Many a time Rafa will be in breach of this rule however when he is pulled up on it by an umpire he gives a slow dirty look. His profile in the game certain seem to influence authority in the game. Take a look below. Nadal was pulled up on his behaviour in his Australian Open match vs Grigor Dimitrov.
So there appears to be preferential treatment of Nadal and other big name players by umpires. Ofcourse the last thing players are thinking about is the time they take between points so it really should be a matter for the umpires to police the time between points more strictly. Other players have raised this issue before and it seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
Will the authorities ever get tough on this crime?
It seems to me that if the sport of tennis wants to capture a new breed of tennis fan then they must tackle this issue. Nobody wants to see long drawn out matches, at least matches longer than they need to be. TV, advertisers et al, all need to see players in action on court. These delays for whatever reason are not good. I perfectly understand the need for a little extra break after a particularly long rally and umpires should best use their discretion in this instance. Certain players like themselves have become conditioned to taking longer than they should between points. This includes Nadal. If they can become conditioned they can become unconditioned too.