When are the authorities at any of the governing bodies in tennis and the four majors going to start enforcing rules that were changed and maybe start considering some new ones to eliminate unnecessary time wasting?
It always was a ridiculous situation that allowed players to sit down on a change of ends after the first game of a set. A few years ago that was formally changed and players needed to keep things continuous and as a result they needed to go to the other end of the court, without stopping at the courtside benches, and keep playing. Serena Williams and probably Roger Federer are the only ones that do it.
Players don’t sit down now but they may as well. When they change ends 99.9% of them are still taking a drink and still using their towels. Other than the actual physical act of sitting down, nothing has changed. Chair umpires have allowed matters to slacken.
Maybe the rule should be adjusted to force players to walk around the net post opposite to where their courtside benches are.
There is no possible reason for a player to stop after that first game of a set. They have either just started the match or they have just had a sit down for 90 seconds at the end of the previous set. Similarly players stop at their courtside benches after six points of a tiebreaker to change ends and that should not be allowed. A tiebreaker is essentially a single game and they would not do something like that if a regular game went 13 or 14 points.
Certainly at times discretion needs to be used by a chair umpire. For example if the conditions are ridiculously hot and humid or there has been an excruciating point. It is totally acceptable to give a player an extra moment to catch their breath BUT the underlying rule is that play has to be continuous, and right now it is not in such circumstances.
Players have worked the rule and it has been done so much and by pretty much every player, that it is just ignored. The silly interruption needs to be done away with and the actual rule enforced because right now it is nonsense and is not being adhered to.
Another aspect that has gone right out of hand is players constantly going for the towel. Pointing to the towel after every point, shaking their hand in front of their faces is another way players beckon for the towel. It was never like that.
Why has it changed? It has changed because it is the perfect ploy a player has for slowing down an opponent’s rhythm. The game is played at such an incredible pace that again it also allows a player to take a deep breath before the next point begins.
Tennis needs to reintroduce the “no-nonsense player”. There are still some around but it is so rare to see it these days. Again, the true “no-nonsense player” is Serena Williams; she gets out there and just plays.
A rule that should be redefined is to do with the warm-up period of a match. Having a five minute warm-up before the first point of a match is played is understandable although some observers feel otherwise. It allows the athletes to quickly acclimatise with the surroundings, see how the opponent is striking the ball and hear the sound the ball is making on the court they are on.
But why should there be further warm-ups if a match has been interrupted for whatever reason? If players have to leave the court and return, whether it is after five minutes or one hour and 35 minutes, they should be made to resume the match immediately. No further warm-up, after all they have already been out on court.
They have had that opportunity to acclimatise at the start and they have been playing the match so if by then they have no idea about the surroundings in case of an interruption, then they only have themselves to blame. No excuses!