Tuesday, March 13, 2012

AGAIN WITH THE HINDRANCE RULE?

Yes, all over again. Ironically, another American (Mardy Fish) with a penchant for petulance (like Serena), against another Australian (Matthew Ebden), long considered an under-achiever (like Sam Stosur)...okay, maybe not that second part. But incredible that both the hinderer and the hindered were from the same natinoalities...AGAIN...but I digress.

Mardy Fish (just like Serena) should review the rules before jumping to incorrect conclusions about whether a let should be played. The ATP rulebook (http://www.atpworldtour.com/Corporate/Rulebook.aspx) governs here, but it just so happens tha the ATP hindrance rule (unlike the WTA hindrance rule) says the same thing as the  ITF/USTA rules of tennis. And it is clearly stated in Chapter VII (Competition), Section 22 (On-Court Procedures and Requirements), Part F - "Hindrance", Line 2b "Inadvertant or Deliberate Act" that:

"Any distraction caused by a player may be ruled deliberate and result in the loss of a point (intentional or unintentional). Deliberate is defined as the player meant to do what it was that caused the hindrance or distraction."

Emphasis on meaning to do what caused the hindrance, not the hindrance itself - in other words, you don't have to be a poor sport to hinder your opponent. Here the umpire did not necessarily rule that the hindrance was deliberate, but the act CAUSING the hindrance was (i.e. the act of shouting, "Come on!" was deliberate, even though the hindrance caused by that shout was not), therefore the point was correctly awarded to the Ebden.

In fact, the exact situation that occurred with Fish, is referred to in the description of hindrance cases, "Opponent Makes Noise", where it states:

"Case: During play, a player thinking he has hit a winner, shouts “vamos”, “come on”, “yes”, etc. as his opponent is in the act of hitting the ball..

Decision: If the chair umpire rules that a hindrance has occurred then, as the sound or exclamation that caused the hindrance was deliberate, the point shall be awarded."

Therefore the only area of interpretation is if the umpire determines that the shout caused a hindrance. If the players is on the deuce court, and the shot before the shout lands on the ad court sideline, it would have to be interpreted that there was no hindrance, but anything in between is down to the determination of the umpire, and he can consider how close he is to the ball, how fast the player was moving towards it, how fast the ball was going, the angle, etc.

I'll update this post with any footage from the incident, but the point is that once it is determined that a deliberate hindrance has occurred, there is NO OPTION TO PLAY A LET.

UPDATE:

Here is the point in question, and Felix Torralba makes a ruling that is 100% correct - Fish attempts to create a couple of non-existent standards for a replay, for which there is nothing in the rules to support. First he claims the hindrance didn't cause him to miss, which is irrelevant, and secondly that because the hindrance wasn't really a hindrance, he should get a let, which not only doesn't make any sense (why would you play a let if there is no hindrance) and is also not supported, because once a deliberate hindrance is ruled (defined by whether the act that caused the hindrance was intentional), there is no option to play a let.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcSv3oEcCJc&feature=player_detailpage#t=2858s
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