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Question of the Day
Like Wimbledon, the Australian Open doesn’t use a tiebreaker to decide the final set in a five-set match. When the score reached 6-6 in the fifth, Isner and Nalbandian had already been on court in front of a packed house at Margaret Court Arena for 4 hours and the sun was beginning to set.
Neither player had any break points until the 17th game when the Argentine veteran got three chances on Isner’s serve.
The American fended off the first two. On the third, he hit a serve down the middle that was called out. Nouni overruled the call, saying it was an ace.
Nalbandian approached the umpire’s chair to protest the ruling and then went to study the mark where the ball had landed to decide whether to challenge the call by checking the video replay. But when he raised his finger to challenge, Nouni said he’d taken too long and awarded the point to Isner, making the score deuce.
“I mean, it’s ridiculous playing this kind of tournament with this kind of umpires,” Nalbandian after the match. “What is this? What did the ATP do for this? I didn’t understand in that situation, 8-all, break point. I mean, can you be that stupid to do that in that moment?”
The 30-year-old former Wimbledon finalist was even more pointed when asked by the Spanish-language media whether he thought the ruling was personal.
“It’s not personal, no,” Nalbandian said. Umpires “don’t have the capacity to make a sound judgment in the important moments of a match. They’re bad.”
Tournament officials later clarified that a request for a challenge must be made in a timely manner _ a judgment that is left to the umpire’s discretion.
CURTAIN CALL: Former second-ranked Tommy Haas realizes his lengthy career may be coming to a close.
The 33-year-old German, who has slumped to No. 190 in the rankings, lost to Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 Wednesday in the second round of the Australian Open.
Haas is back after missing more than a year on tour because of hip and elbow surgeries. Since returning at the French Open last year, he’s struggled to regain his form, winning just seven matches in 2011.
Under the ATP’s protected ranking system, Haas has entered the main draws of ATP tournaments using his ranking from the date of his injury.
But time is running out on the exception, and Haas says that might mean the end of his career.
“It becomes tricky where you have to play qualifying and maybe go back and play some challengers. I’m not sure if I’m up for the task of doing that,” he said.
By Matt Kibbe
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