The clock’s ticking!

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The US Open will become the first Grand Slam to use a shot clock for its main draw this August.

A countdown clock on court will help umpires who can then enforce penalties for time violations.

Defending US Open champion Rafael Nadal has spoken out against the innovation in the past, and is unlikely to be happy with its use at Flushing Meadow.

Time for change

Players were previously allowed 20 seconds between points at Grand Slam tournaments with umpires told to use their discretion.

 

Overwhelmingly, chair officials have not punished players for exceeding the time limit.

In November last year, the Grand Slam Board accepted the Australian Open’s request to increase the time allowed from 20 to 25 seconds, bringing it in line with ATP tournaments.

To enforce that ruling, the Australian Open implemented an on-court shot clock but only used it for the qualifiers.

If the player exceeds the 25 seconds, the umpire will issue a warning.

A second transgression can result in a point being docked, and a third the forfeit of a game.

There is also a strict seven-minute period from when the players enter the court until the start of the match.

Any delays can lead to fines of up to 20,000 US dollars.

Last year’s US Open qualifiers tested out the shot clock and pre-match time limits for the first time and the feedback received was positive.

US Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier said in a telephone interview, “We would like to keep the pace of the play moving. That’s our goal.”

Trouble for Rafa?

World number one Rafael Nadal is the player most likely needing to adapt to the shot clock.

With his pre-point ritual of twitches and ticks, the Spaniard often exceeds the time limit.

Nadal had a long-running dispute with one umpire, Brazilian Carlos Bernardes, who challenged him over the time he took.

At this year’s Australian Open, Bernardes exacted a revenge of sorts by warning Nadal for taking too long before the start of his match against Damir Dzumhur.

When asked about the shot clock last November, the 16-time Grand Slam winner was quick to object.

“I believe it is not something that is good for the future of the Tour.

“Having a clock with 25 seconds playing in some extreme conditions, you cannot have the best show possible.”

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Author: Stephen Hannon
Stephen Hannon is the Head of News at Olympic Channel, the digital platform launched by the IOC.