|Tennis - the Greatest Game - So what can be done about those timely injuries?|
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So what can be done about those timely injuries?
As stated before, it is not only Nadal who uses gamesmanship to influence the outcome of his matches, but numerous other players do so as well. The most unsettling form of gamesmanship to an opponent must certainly be the well-timed call for a medical time-out. Rain delays regularly come to rescue of players, as for instance during the Goran Ivaniševi? vs Tim Henman Wimbledon 2001 semi-final. Henman was leading 5-7, 7-6, 6-0, 2-1 and was dominating play when the rain came down. The momentum changed, Ivaniševi? scraped through and eventually went on to defeat Pat Rafter in the final. All players are aware that a medical time-out can have the same effect, especially when an opponent knows that the injury is feigned.
The ATP has in good faith and probably for very good reasons introduced rules that allow medical time-outs to be called. These rules however have numerous drawbacks:
In my opinion there is only one way to resolve this problem and that is to allow the clock and score board to keep ticking during a medical time-out. The latter must of course be allowed as a sudden but brief injury related problem may occur. I specifically remember an incident during which John McEnroe was bouncing the ball, but somehow managed to get it into his eye. He was then allowed some time to recover, although strictly speaking it was all of his own doing. This is of course perfectly in order, as no one would have wanted the match to be cancelled at that point. As another example, the number one player in the world may be leading 2-0 in sets and 5-0 in games in the third set when he accidentally injures his knee. All he needs is a couple of minutes to recover, but at that very instant he will not be able to continue with play, so there can be no doubt that medical time-outs must be allowed. However, in order to counter dishonesty, I would like to suggest that whenever a player calls for a 3 minute medical time-out, he or she should immediately forfeit the next 6 points (180/25 = 7.2, allowing one extra grace period of 25 seconds). One may argue that if a player calls for a medical time-out to be taken during the 90 second changeover, the penalty should only be (180 - 90)/25 = 3.6, or 3 points, but one should take into account the fact that the continuity of play is interrupted and that it may have a negative impact on the other player. An additional penalty would therefore seem appropriate. Should the injury occur just after a changeover and be of such a nature that it requires immediate attention, at least 7 more points will anyway have to be played before the next changeover occurs, so that 6 points for 3 minutes will be nothing but fair. To keep matters simple, I would therefore suggest that a player immediately forfeits 6 points whenever he or she calls for a medical time-out.
The proposed 6-point penalty rule for medical time-outs will have the following benefits: