Saturday, 28 June 2014

It's Time to Get Tough On Time!!

Below is a picture of Rafa Nadal starting his service action at Wimbledon this year.
Nothing too astonishing about that, you might say.

The problem is that, prior to this moment, Rafa has:
  • towelled himself down (left arm, right arm, face)
  • examined the three tennis balls he's been given by the ball-boy
  • dispensed with one of the balls and put one in his pocket
  • bounced the ball several times with his racquet
  • picked his knickers out of his bum crack
  • adjusted his tee-shirt on his shoulders
  • wiped the sweat from his nose
  • put his hair behind his left ear
  • wiped the sweat from his nose
  • put his hair behind his right ear
  • bounced the ball several more times
all of which takes time - 27 seconds, on average, in his recent match against Lukas Rosol, which is 7 seconds longer than he is permitted to take in a Grand Slam tennis tournament.
But has anyone pulled him up on this?
Should they?
Well, yes, I think they should.
I know that some people will argue that it's all part of Rafa's 'routine' and that it's not intentional and that the extra time not only gives Rafa the opportunity to compose himself (and perhaps recover from a long rally on the previous point) but also his opponent, but that's not really the issue, is it.
The issue is whether a rule of the game should be flouted so often and to such an extent - if it is to be so, then just get rid of the rule altogether and let players take as long as they want; if not, then get the display in the corner which shows serve speed to double as a shot-clock and if the ball isn't in play by the time it gets to zero, then the point goes to the receiver - that would certainly make players like Rafa conform.
(just for your info, the Daily Mail put the following numbers up for the top players from their recent matches: Murray, 21 seconds - Djokovic, 23 - Federer, 15, Sharapova, 24)

Oh, and one other thing with regards to 'gamesmanship' in tennis - have a look at this rule:
Note that it places the onus on the receiver to play to the reasonable pace of the server.
Now, next time you watch Maria Sharapova receiving, notice how she turns her back on the server, fiddles with the strings of her racquet and suchlike, and only turns round to receive when she is ready.
Go on, watch her…

I think so.
And don't get me started on her screaming as she hits every shot…
Or 'comfort breaks'…
Or calling the trainer to massage a tired muscle...