Aussie Open umps will be flexible on time violations

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It appears as if chair umpires at the Australian Open will not be calling time violations as strictly as ATP officials have been in recent weeks. ATP tournament rules permit players to take 25 seconds in between points, while the Grand Slam events have a 20-second rule.

Australian Open tournament referee Wayne McEwen told AAP that the tournament will be flexible and that he has instructed chair umpires "to keep it fair, keep it consistent. We don't want players out there being penalized after playing a fantastic point, but then again we don't want players deliberately taking too long and that's what we really look at. We focus on that and tell them to use good common sense, good judgment. ... The players sometimes need a little time to recover, especially in the heat of the day, or in a long match. Last year's final was a classic match, the points were lasting incredibly long. In a case like that, you don't want to be killing it for everyone."

Some players have complained about the ATP's strict enforcement of the rule during the first two weeks of the season. Servers are given warnings and then charged with service faults for every violation after that.

ATP Player Council representative Kevin Anderson said that his group—which represents the players—voted for the change, and the South African thinks that it was good move. ATP players were scheduled to have general meeting in Melbourne on Saturday night where they planned to discuss the issue.

"I'm a huge fan of the rule," Anderson said. "I mean, it's tough. I feel like I'm playing quicker and I'm still adjusting to it, but I think the rule's just for tennis in general, I think it's a very good rule. And just being on the council, I was part of the talks when we decided to put that through last year. We actually went through a few options. We talked about having a sort of clock on the court, and we thought that wasn't the best option. We spoke about the problem just before about umpires being really reluctant to give away a point straight away. That was another option. I can't remember what the vote was, but there are 10 of us, so there was a deciding vote to put that through."

Novak Djokovic, who beat Rafael Nadal in a record-setting, five-hour and 53-minute final at the 2012 Australian Open, says that he will follow the letter of the law.

"I guess Nadal and myself, we're right up there mentioned in that topic as the players who would be always in danger of the time violation because of the time we are taking between the points,” he said. "It is the way it is. I cannot have any complaints when I take more than 20 seconds between the points. If the chair umpire comes to me and said, ‘Listen, you should be a little bit more careful about it.' If I do it again, he gives me warning, I can't complain about it. It's within the rules and I will respect it."


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