Shot Clock Has No Place in Tennis

Shot Clock Has No Place in Tennis

Have we reached a new stage in the Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer rivalry in 2012? If we have, it’s an unexpected one. It seems that as their mutual respect has grown over the years, so has their willingness to take the occasional public shot at the other. In January, Nadal called out Federer for not doing enough in his role on the ATP council to address player concerns, letting everyone else “burn” while he came off as the spotless gentleman. This week Federer returned the favor by mentioning Nadal by name as one of the players guilty of taking too long between points.

“I don’t know how you can go through a four-hour match with Rafa,” Federer said, “and him never getting a time violation.”

So, the truth is coming out at last. This is a healthy new stage in their relationship, I’d say, even if they haven’t brought themselves to talk trash face to face—maybe (hopefully?) they’ll get into it on court one of these days. Why not? Federer, in his confrontational old age, also mused recently that Hawk-Eye has robbed the sport of some of its rage, and thus its entertainment value.

The bigger issue at the moment, though, is the delay-of-game question. Nadal answered Federer by essentially arguing for discretion from the chair umpires. “The rules are there,” Nadal said, referring to his supersized Australian Open final with Novak Djokovic, “but you cannot expect to play a six-hour match, play rallies of crazy points, and rest 20 seconds.”

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