Federer wants players to observe time rules, for fear of losing viewers

Friday, June 27, 2014 /by
AP Photo
AP Photo

Roger Federer has spoken out about the importance of players not taking too long between points, in order to keep people's attention on matches.   

"I just think it's important that we, as players, play up to speed, and don't exceed the time limit,'' he said after winning his second-round match at Wimbledon, ''because what I don't want is that we lose viewers because we play too slow."

Federer's comments came on a day when Rafael Nadal was accused of taking too long between points by his opponent, Lukas Rosol, but Federer said he was speaking from one of his own experiences.

"I just realize it happened to me," he said. "I did watch some matches. I don't remember who it was. But they were playing so slow I was like, 'Okay, I really—I can't watch it.' 

"That's why I said that."

About Nadal's match, Federer said, "That's an umpire's call."

Grand Slam rules allow players 20 seconds between points, though it appears the rule is enforced less strictly than at ATP events, where players are allowed 25 seconds. 

"I was talking in particular if the points are short. You cannot take 25 seconds. I mean, I know you need to focus. That you can do in 10 seconds," said Federer. "Just can't be that we only see two points per minute. I just feel like we need to keep up the pace, and obviously play according to the rules."

However, he added, there should be some acknowledgement of long points and crowd disruption, something Nadal has criticized umpires for not doing. 

"The rules are there not to be broken, but of course you need to give leeway to tough rallies and somebody who's needs a bit more time. I'm fine with that" said Federer. 

The issue has received greater attention since Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who both regularly take a long time between points, have become top players.

The ATP tour began enforcing its 25-second rule more frequently a year ago, but also reduced the penalties for going over the limit. Federer said the issue had been discussed by the player council, which he was then a member of.

"Basically we just said we needed to just enforce the rule, is that it? It wasn't a rule change. It was about enforcing the rule and tell the umpires to basically do what they are supposed to be doing—and not just let it run its course every single time," he said.

But officials have again become more lenient, Federer suggested, and there could be further steps taken if the problem is not resolved.

"Yeah, they have gotten a little less aggressive, the umpires, again, which is understandable sometimes," he said, but added, "What you're going to see next is all of a sudden a shot clock. We discussed that as well. We said we didn't need to go that far. That the next council can decide. I wouldn't be surprised if that were to happen all of a sudden. Because you only just need a couple of guys always doing it, and that's when it happens."

Players have often complained about getting a warning for going over the limit once; others, like Rosol, have said top players are not called on the rule enough. 

Federer argued that like him, players should develop a habit of not taking too much time, saying, "But I don't think all of last year I got a warning. Did I always play under 20, 25 seconds—I‘m not sure, but maybe I do get the benefit for playing quick most of the time."

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