INDIAN WELLS, CALIF. (AP) - Some players at the BNP Paribas Open say chair umpires need to be more diligent about enforcing rules about time allowed between points.
The length of the recent Australian Open final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, which took 5 hours, 53 minutes to complete, had some wondering what was taking so long. Turns out both players often took as much as 30 seconds in between points.
Rules state players are allowed 20 seconds between points in the four Grand Slam tournaments and 25 seconds in ATP Tour events. But like the slow-play rules in golf, they are enforced inconsistently.
Roger Federer, who plays fairly quickly, says he thinks officials "are being too loose," about policing the time limit and admits to having wondered "how you can go through a 4-hour match with Rafa (Nadal) and him never getting a time violation."
Americans Andy Roddick, Robby Ginepri and Michael Russell told USA Today that they would be in favor of an electronic shot-clock like those used in basketball. But Roddick also said that, like children stretching their parents' tolerance, the players are getting away with taking too much time because the officials are allowing it.
Enric Molina Mur, the head of officiating for the International Tennis Federation, which governs the Grand Slams, said there obviously are instances when the rule is not being properly enforced. But Gayle Bradshaw, who oversees rules and competition for the ATP Tour, told the newspaper that consistency is a problem "because sometimes 20 seconds is more than adequate and sometimes 25 seconds is clearly not long enough."
That's Nadal's position, too.
He said Thursday that he has "had a lot of warnings in my time and I've accepted it, almost every one, because sometimes they are right. That's part of the game.
"If they say it's 15 seconds it's 15 seconds. In normal conditions, yes. But you have to understand how the match goes" and whether or not the energy expended during a point merits additional recovery time, "and that's the work of the umpire, in my opinion."