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Beyond the Baseline

Murray: Djokovic-Nadal Australian Open final led to crackdown on slow play

Andy Murray supports the ATP's crackdown on slow play, but he says the 25 seconds that players are allotted between points isn't enough.

Here's how the ATP described the rule change for 2013: "A time violation between points (25 seconds) will be penalized in the first instance with a warning. For the second and all subsequent violations, the penalty will be a fault for the server and a point penalty for the receiver. Currently [in 2012], the rule is a warning and then point penalty for both the server and receiver." According to ATP CEO Brad Drewett, the lighter penalty for servers "will give officials a useful tool and allow for more consistent enforcement of the current time violation rule."

Murray suggested that 30 seconds would be preferable for the players.

"Twenty-five seconds goes by really, really quick when you're on the court," Murray said after his semifinal victory at the Brisbane International on Saturday. "All it takes is a shoelace to come undone and you're out of time.  Guys have been getting warnings when they change their racket for breaking a string or whatever.  That's also not right."

Murray said the rule is a "huge advantage" for the returner.

"The returner can just get to the line and just stand there and say that he's ready," Murray said, "whereas the sever, 99 percent of the players bounce the ball three or four times before their serve. That's when guys are getting the penalties, when they're actually bouncing.  I got one the other day while I was bouncing a ball."

Whatever the rule is, Murray wants to see it strictly enforced regardless of the circumstances.

"I think it's wrong that people say they [the chair umpires] have to give a bit of leeway if there is a long point," Murray said. "I think that's when the person who is physically stronger gains an advantage. They should be recovering in a certain amount of time."

Yeah, this time violation business is going to be a sticky point as the ATP season progresses. I saw Kei Nishikori get a time violation in Brisbane after his opponent, Alexandr Dolgopolov, went to change rackets. There has to be a way to codify common sense.

Interestingly, Murray says the impetus for stricter enforcement stems from last year's Australian Open final, which Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal contested for almost six hours. ESPN.com's Kamakshi Tandon estimated that Djokovic and Nadal added 70 minutes to the match because of repeated violations of the time rule, which is 20 seconds between points at Grand Slam tournaments. But Murray is quick to remind everyone that spectators thoroughly enjoyed that match, time violations or not.

"We were told the reason for them changing the rule is because of the Aussie Open final last year, which I think everyone agrees was a classic match," Murray said. "Right now, that match is getting shown whenever there is a delay or someone has pulled out or something, so it's not like the TV [executives] hated the match and they're never going to show it again."
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