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Beyond the Baseline

Rafael Nadal not pleased about receiving a time violation in Monte Carlo

(Julian Finney/Getty Images) Rafael Nadal fell behind early in the first set, but rallied to win 6-4, 6-1. (Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal was not happy after receiving a time violation during his second-round match at the Monte Carlo Masters and the eight-time Monte Carlo champion let chair umpire Pascal Maria know it.

Nadal had won the first set and was up 4-0 on Teymuraz Gabashvili when the two played one of the best points of the mach at 30-all;  it ended with a Gabashvili hitting a winner into the open court after a 24-shot rally. Nadal took his time to catch his breath before serving down break point, and Maria issued Nadal his second time violation of the match, resulting in the loss of a first serve. Gabashvili then broke Nadal.

As Nadal walked back to his bench he wagged his finger at the chair umpire and proceeded to tell him he was wrong to give him the violation at that point in the match (players are allowed 25 seconds between points) because the two had just played a long rally.

"Put the watch there [pointing on court] and then you don't have to do nothing, Pascal," Nadal said, implying the chair umpire needed to use his discretion as opposed to just count the seconds on the clock.

Here's what Nadal had to say after the match, via L'Equipe's Carole Bouchard:

Nadal has been vocal about his concern that stricter enforcement of the ATP's time violation rule will lead to more boring tennis because the players need time to rest after grueling exchanges, so they can consistently play a high level of tennis. But this specific exchange illustrates the precise flaw in that position. The crowd wasn't going wild, so the players did not have to wait for the crowd to settle down, and Gabashvili wasn't sucking wind after winning the rally either. He walked straight to the baseline and was prepared to return well within the 25 seconds.

By making Nadal run around for 24 shots, the Russian has earned a competitive advantage -- on break point, no less. If Nadal wants that extra time, he can just take the time violation and give up his first serve. Again, that rule enforcement maintains Gabashvili's well-earned competitive advantage.

And if Nadal really is such a proponent of an umpire using his discretion, it should be noted that the violation was issued when he was a set and 4-0 up. Not exactly the most critical point of the match.

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