Nadal blasts time violation rule; says umpires have lost their value
Although the ATP Players Council unanimously approved the enforcement of the 25-second time violation rule last year at the U.S. Open, Rafael Nadal remains strongly opposed to it. The players will hold a meeting at the Miami tournament in two weeks to discuss the rule again.
ATP Player Council rep Kevin Anderson believes it is a good rule, but concedes that it’s tough when “you have to sometimes take into consideration extenuating circumstances. If you play like an incredibly long point or the ball kids—maybe the ball goes out or something. It makes it fair for everybody ... But I have heard as the year has gone on, some guys are saying it's getting a bit more lax. There aren't as many time violations going on out there. I just heard a couple guys saying with different matches some people are sticking to the rule and some people aren't. It's a work in progress.”
Nadal, who has a reputation for being slow between points, said he sped up his play in his win over Ryan Harrison at Indian Wells because “somebody very smart puts a new rule that is a disaster, in my opinion. Not in places like [Indian Wells] that is dry, not very humid place, but is completely disaster when we are playing in tournaments like Acapulco, Brazil, or Chile. The rule is wrong. First thing, because the rules go against the great points of tennis. Because if you see the highlights of the end of the season, I didn't see not one highlight, the best points of the season, I did not see not one ace. The best points of the season are long rallies and amazing points. With this 25 seconds, you play a long rally and you think you can play another long rally next point? No. So go against the good tennis.”
Nadal added that with the strict enforcement of the rule—which begins with a warning, and then a fault for the server and a point penalty for the receiver for the second and all subsequent violations—and the existence of the Hawk-Eye line-calling review technology, umpires have lost their value.
“He don't have to analyze nothing,” the Spaniard said.
Nadal also said he reviewed some of his previous notable long matches, and noticed that he was taking more time in between points and was not penalized.
The Grand Slams employ a 20-second time-between-points rule, but tell the umpires to be flexible with it; time violations are rarely called.
“You have to see the third set of the U.S. Open 2011 against Djokovic, and you tell me if the crowd was very happy about what happened in that set or not, and tell me if with this new rule that can happen again,” Nadal said. “Please.”