Roddick, Cilic Start Strong at Australian Open Tune-ups; New Rules
by Ben Pronin | January 4th, 2010, 2:48 pm

At long last we have some definite results coming out of the first three tournaments of the year. Here’s a small recap of all three events and I also made sure to look into the new time-out rules.

Doha: First round action saw Ivo Karlovic progress in straight sets over Fabio Fognini. Karlovic is currently ranked 37 and he’s getting pretty old so I expect more of the same from him this year; a crap load of aces and a bunch of close losses. Olivier Rochus dropped one game in his opener (not bad for an aging short guy).

There was one upset, however, Mikhail Youzhny lost his opener to Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine (not cool). Youzhny was showing some promise at the end of last year but this is a minor set back, especially since he had a pretty good draw to reach the semis.

And as I write this, Ernest Gulbis is up a set against Albert Montanes and looks to be in good shape to go through. I’m a big Gulbis fan so I hope he really starts to make some noise in 2010.

Brisbane: Boy did Brisbane hit the jackpot in players. Andy Roddick, Richard Gasquet, and Radek Stepanek all came through. Supposedly talented Jeremy Chardy was upset by Alejandro Falla. Roddick and Stepanek both won in straight sets but Gasquet won a tough one against Jarkko Nieminen. That is a great win for the not-so-young-anymore Frenchman.

Justine Henin made a winning start by beating Nadia Petrova (again). The hotties in the draw, Ana Ivanovic and Daniela Hantuchova, both got through in three sets. There was one peculiar result that I would like to give a special mention to; qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan defeated wildcard Casey Dellacqua of Australia 6-2 0-6 7-6(1). It’s just unbelievable for a player to lose a match after serving a bagel.

And this isn’t specific to the women, either. Andy Murray has actually lost a match to Gasquet despite bageling him in the second set and Marat Safin and Roddick have both lost matches after winning the first set 6-0. It is just unbelievable and unacceptable. I know how important momentum shifts are in tennis but to lose after gaining that much momentum should be a devastating result to a professional athlete.

Chennai: Janko Tipsarevic scored a solid win over Carlos Moya. Tipsarevic is a weird player who’s really on and off but he’s been on at the Australian Open before, so he should be enjoying this part of the year. Marin Cilic plowed through Igor Kunitsyn to take one step closer to everyone’s dream final (Soderling-Cilic).

Hopman Cup: Russia beat Germany 2-1 after Elena Dementieva somehow lost but Igor Andreev made sure to win and they teamed up to get the doubles point. Great Britain beat Kazakhstan 2-1 because Laura Robson lost her third set 6-0. Murray had no trouble picking apart his opponent but Robson and Murray were pushed to the brink before coming out 12-10 in the third set tiebreaker. Isn’t it funny how an exhibition plays a full doubles match but actual tournaments don’t?

Injury Report: Ok so I don’t know how accurate this is because it was the best I could find off Google, but it looks pretty legitimate. As soon as the ITF has something official on their site, I’ll be sure to post it.

Medical Time-Out can only be taken at changeover or set-break, unless the trainer/doctor determine that the player has an acute medical condition requiring immediate attention (ankle or knee sprain, bloody nose, etc.). If the player requests the trainer during a game, and the trainer diagnoses a non-acute condition, then the player will be instructed to play until the changeover when he can receive the medical time-out.

Here’s the biggest change: No more medical time-outs allowed for cramping. A player may have a medical time-out for heat illness (vomiting or similar), but not solely for cramping. A player may only receive changeover/set-break treatment for muscle cramping, and only on 2 changeovers (doesn’t need to be consecutive changeovers). If a player has severe cramping and needs immediate treatment, he/she may forfeit the points or games needed to get to the changeover where he/she may receive treatment for cramping, assuming they have not used all 2 changeovers yet. If the trainer is called to the court, and arrives after part of the changeover has expired, they may treat for the remainder of that changeover, plus 2 additional full changeovers. In reference to the players forfeiting points/games to get to the changeover/setbreak, this is not a Code Violation. Years ago, before cramping medical timeouts were allowed, a player could buy time with Code Violations to get to the changeover. Now, they can literally just forfeit those points or games.

Bleeding: Bleeding is now officially in the rules that the chair umpire must stop play if a player is bleeding and request the trainer to the court. Blood must be stopped, and the court, balls, and anything else needs to be cleaned up or changed out before play is resumed.

Anyone else think the bleeding rule was though of after the Youzhny incident?


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20 Comments for Roddick, Cilic Start Strong at Australian Open Tune-ups; New Rules

Fot Says:

“Anyone else think the bleeding rule was though of after the Youzhny incident?”

OR after Murray self-inflicted injury to his hand by hitting them against the strings of his tennis racket.

mary Says:

Great changes for the medical timeouts. Now officials need to crack down on delay of game.

“(not cool).”
Was Youzhny not concentrating or something or is it simply him losing to this low ranked player?

jane Says:

I don’t think it’s all down to Youzhny, since this Sergiy Stakhovsky is good! He won two titles last year, and as I mentioned on the other thread, I think he could be one to watch this year. I expect him to rise in the rankings this year.

Thanks for the rules update Ben. The cramping thing seems fair enough, i.e., either at the changeover, or in extreme cases, forfeit some points. Hopefully the players are fit enough, and hydrated enough, to avoid the cramping for the most part, and in the extreme heat at the AO, perhaps they’ll close the roof if need be.

Rick Says:

Dream final in Chennai? What final? Soderling who? Is he/she the player who is upset first round in Chennai by Robby Ginepri who is rank 100 in the world? (grin)

SG Says:

Not sure how I feel about this new cramping
rule and here’s why:

1) Certain players are inherently more prone to cramping than others. It often isn’t a matter of conditioning but of actually body type. Michael Chang was a very well conditioned athlete but he cramped up more than say Ivan Lendl. It’s not really fair to impose rules that punish someone for something they cannot change.

2) Let’s say it’s really hot one day and cool the next. The player stuck with the hot conditions may be more prone to cramp in the heat and he has to lose games for it? Doesn’t sound very fair to me.

In my opinion, one of the roles of the rule makers to ensure that the cream rises to the top. I don’t think this rule accomplishes the goal. You have to do your best to level the playing field for everyone. It’s bad enough that one player plays when it’s hot and another doesn’t have to. Compounding that by punishing a player for cramping seems non-sensical.

I’d rather see the time outs and see the best two players at the end of the tournament rather than allow weather to determine who’s in the final.

Polo Says:

I like these new rules. There should be no excuses in sports. If you cramp or get injured, either play on or quit. Tennis is the only sport that allow these wimpy excuses. That is why tennis is looked down by other sports. If you don’t have the physical attributes to play any game continuously, find something else to do…like crocheting.

mary Says:

SG: I understand your point, but too many players were abusing the rule, so it is right to change it.

Kimmi Says:

Clijsters is playing better and better. Very impressive so far.

Cindy_Brady Says:

IMO, The rules are not strict enough. However, this is a step in the right direction.

It will be interesting to see if Novak Djokovic is fitter in Australia this year. He is the king of cramping. This rule should help end his lame stall tactics.

sonic Says:

Don’t really see how the rules help. If someone feels like cramping they can fake an abdominal injury, or something else that’s hard to dispute.

I’d like to see judges actually implement the exiting rules. When Nadal starts testing every seem on his pants and cleaning all the lines, and Djokovic starts lazing about and then bouncing the ball 20+ times they should start losing points and games, even sets. So far we’ve seen a few warnings, and that all…like anyone gives a crap about a warning, when they see umps have no guts to take it further.

No matter how much fitter Djokovic gets, if he gets to play though match in high heat you know he’s toast. As are most players really, luck a huge factor in the AO.

SG Says:

I don’t believe the new cramping rules will make tennis any better. Looking strictly at the men’s game, the best players on their respective surfaces got to the finals of all the slams (save Robin Soderling) who isn’t necessarily the 2nd or 3rd or even 4th best player on clay. Why change the rules when the best players are consistently getting to the end of the slams?

The truth is, any humane rule you make will be taken advantage of by someone. You don’t punish everyone for the acts of a few. You root out and punish the few that are abusing a good rule. Personally, I wouldn’t want to see someone badly injure themself during a fit of cramps just so they could make it to the changeover.

Kimmi Says:

Sonic: how did Djokovic win his AO in 2008 if he cannot play on the heat? Was there no heat in 2008? Or did he play at night in most matches?

jane Says:

Kimmi, good point! Djoko played a mix of day and evening matches that year when he won the slam; I know for a fact that his R16 match with Hewitt was night, his quarter finals were in the day versus Ferrer, his semifinals were night versus Fed, and the final itself began in the late afternoon. Some of his earlier matches were daytime.

Last year was an exception; everyone said the heat wave was at the AO out of this world; people in Australia were dying because of it! And other players besides Djoko were affected, including one player – was it Azarenka? – nearly passing out on court. So hopefully, this year, either (a) it won’t be as hot, or (b) they’ll close the roof if it is.

I think since then Djoko has improved his conditioning anyhow.

Kimmi Says:

Even though Melbourne is famous for hot temperatures, I agree with you that last year was exceptional. A lot of players complained and few retired in matches. In the end they closed the roof in some matches but I think the decision came a little late. I remember serena looked zoned out in her match with kutzy in the 1st set, she could not concentrate she said…after closing the roof in the second, she then light up and started to play much better but kutzy did not like it, she said she preferred when the roof was open. I doubt if Azarenka problems were due to heat but I could be wrong.. I remember hearing commentator saying she was also feeling sick the previous night.

Anyways, I agree that in the past djoko has shown some weakness in some extreme heat conditions but also we have seen he has been able to play thru some. So lets see what happens this year and for his sake lets hope he has improved even better.

Ben Pronin Says:

Didn’t Murray have trouble with the heat in his match against Verdasco? Why pick on Djokovic? I know Murray was sick and all but that could easily be because of the extreme heat. I personally get a cold when I go from extreme heat to an a/c’ed room. Something about the drastic change in temperature almost always gets me sick. That could be why Murray and even Azarenka weren’t feeling well.

huh Says:

“Rick Says:
Soderling who? Is he/she the player who is upset first round in Chennai by Robby Ginepri who is rank 100 in the world? (grin)

Ask Rafa. ;)

Cindy_Brady Says:

Robby Ginepri can have flashes of consistency. I remember he took Andre Agassi to 5 sets at the U.S Open a few years ago. It took everything Andre had to beat him that day. He is dangerous, especially to head cases like Soderling.

Soderling may have big problems this year. Many are expecting him to repeat what he did last year. Even get better. He’s not going to surprise anyone this year from out of the nowhere. Good players are ready to take the fight to him every match. Let’s see how mentally strong he is now that he is expected to win. His game has little margin for error. Big, flat, and powerful. Looks impressive when it’s on but shit when it’s off.

I predict by the end of the season, especially after the French Open, Soderlings rank will dip back around the 30s-40s range where it really belongs. He played above his head last year. The Soderling faithful are in for a rude awakening.

huh Says:

Cindy_Brady’s the first one to talk crap whenever any player loses one or two important matches. She had predicted (as told by some to me) that Fed’ll never win another slam after his AO 09 loss. She’d also spouted garbage about Rafa in the past. And now, she’s doing the same thing with respect to Soderling, ignoring the fact that Soderling at his best can easily be among the top 15. Cheap shot by her as usual.

marija Says:

No matter how much fitter Djokovic gets, if he gets to play though match in high heat you know he’s toast,
says Croat Sonic the serbian hater

how did Djokovic win his AO in 2008 if he cannot play on the heat

Sonic is just jealous that his croats cannot win anything. His country doesn’t have a shining star.

marija Says:

oh, I forgot, Croatia will have soon- to- be deported Tomic and his father.

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