What is an Unforced Error? Federer v. Andreev
by Ben Pronin | January 19th, 2010
  • 61 Comments

This question slowly crept into my head as I was watching Roger Federer attempt everything in his power to keep himself from missing against a free-swinging Igor Andreev. Their match was very reminiscient of Federer’s matches against Nadal; lots of heavy topspin forehands aimed at Federer’s backhand over and over again until it “breaks down.” The biggest difference between a Nadal and Andreev is tactics. Nadal has a more definitive and effective pattern against Federer whereas Andreev was thinking/hitting in the moment. But I digress…

Twice in the third set Andreev held an advantage and a set point on his own serve to take a two sets to one lead over the World Number 1. Twice he missed the forehand that got him to that point in the first place. Would those two misses be considered unforced errors? I remember the second one fairly vividly. After a brief exchange, Federer hit a short backhand that Andreev moved in on and tried to hit up the line. He hit the top of the tape instead. Personally, I would not considered this an unforced error by any stretch. It wasn’t a particularly easy set up and chances were that Federer would get the ball back into play, anyway.

Before I dive deeper into Federer and Andreev, I’ll explain my understanding of “errors” in tennis. A forced error is easy to spot. When your opponent is running you around like a rabbit until you’re 10 feet behind the baseline and you can barely get a racquet on the ball, missing into the net in this situation would count as a forced error. But an unforced error is when you’re more or less in control of a point and you end up missing. At least that’s how they seem to count it.  I recall several years ago Federer complained how each tournament counted UEs differently. At the Australian Open, he’d hit 10 UEs over the course of three sets, but at Indian Wells they’d count up to 30 errors in two sets.

Like Federer, I have trouble believing that he could make so many more/less errors from one match to another. It’s possible, but it’s rare for anyone. Most players hit a consistent amount of errors to winners depending on their form. Obviously someone like Nikolay Davydenko is probably missing a lot less than he used to, but in the past few months it’s generally the same amount.

My point is that when you look at the men’s game today, unforced errors are extremely rare. Having played tennis myself, I have a slight understanding of the thinking that goes on during a match. When you’re playing someone who seems to get every shot back (like Federer did against Andreev) you want to press more and hit a slightly better shot each time. Did Andreev accidentally miss his forehand? Sure he didn’t want to miss it, but he knew he had to put something extra on it to keep Federer at bay.

Federer ended with 38 UEs while Andreev had 55. I’d say half of those were “mentally forced” errors. Each guy knew he had to hit an extra special shot in order to win some points and that makes a particular shot more risky. When players double fault, is it because they can’t serve or because they know they need to make sure their second serve doesn’t get pulverized (WTA comes to mind). Federer missed several forehands where he tried to go for more than usual because of how well Andreev was playing. Andreev started missing a bunch of forehands in the third set tiebreaker because his thinking was something along the lines of, “I’m playing so well and I just had set points yet it wasn’t enough, so I need to go for even more now.”

Saying Federer got lucky because Andreev choked or got tight or anything along those lines is discrediting both players. Andreev really pushed Federer and Federer did everything he could to edge out the win. Federer legitimately made his own luck by running down everything and forcing Andreev to play one more point and a slightly better point each time. Federer could have buckled, but he kept going and sometimes all you can do is hang with your opponent. When they miss, it’s because you put so much pressure on them that they had to go for more. Even when some players miss sitters, it’s because they fear their opponent that much. The category should be called “mentally forced” errors, as far as I’m concerned.

On a side note, this Andreev match could be a blessing in disguise. I’ve always said it hurts Federer to have easy draws that lead him to a Djokovic or a Nadal, players who aren’t afraid of him and push him. Now Federer is tested as early as round one. He still has some easy matches before more tests, but now he’s battle ready.


Also Check Out:
Federer Faces Russian Challenge in Andreev Today at US Open
Novak Djokovic: This Was The Best Match I’ve Played Since Arriving In The U.S.
Cincinnati Day 2 – Hewitt, Simon, Ferrer Show Mental Toughness
Vandeweghe Loses to Schiavone in Fed Cup Final Opener; Mattek-Sands Next
Nadal Befuddles Indecisive Federer for 4th Straight French Open Title

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61 Comments for What is an Unforced Error? Federer v. Andreev

SG Says:

Hmmm…being battle tested hasn’t been an issue in the past for Federer. He won his first 7 majors without much more than breaking a sweat.

Being battle tested when your on the north side 28 years old in the first round of a major? Not sure that’s a good thing. Fortunately for both players, the heat wasn’t stifling. Fed played a tough match against Djokovic in the USO semis. Despite this, he kind of went away in the 5th against DelPo. Fed’s a great player. Day in and day out, the best on tour. But winning majors isn’t only about being the best day in and day out. It’s about bringing your best tennis when you need it most. Let’s see if Fed can continue to do that in Week 2.


Ra Says:

Congratulations for your new position at tennis-x, Ben! I was poking around here and have enjoyed your articles and so wanted to let you know. Keep up the good work.

Also, hi Jane, Kimmi, and whoever else is still around these parts! Exciting times in tennis, eh? I’m certainly loving it, anyway.

Oh, and I heard a commentator state that if Federer goes out before the semis and Djokovic will be the new number 1 if he takes the title. Is that right? That would be a crazy sneak attack if Nole were to pull it off.


SG Says:

If you’re in an offensive part of the court and you make an error, you’re making an unforced error. In tennis, “unforced” basically means your in a neutral or offensive position and you miss a shot a pro shouldn’t miss.

Saying that a player’s error is forced because the guy on the other side of the net is in his head is too fuzzy a definition for me. At some point, you have to say the guys missed a shot he shouldn’t of. If he’s not good enough to make these shots when he has to, he doesn’t make it to the top 5. End result…this player keeps playing tough players early in tournaments. You have to grow and learn and as a player. When you do, you make less errors and go up in the rankings.


federico Says:

ra: yes if fed loses in QF he´ll start the week with 9710 ponts
if djokovic wins he ´ll have 9910 points
if rafa wins hell have 9310 points , he can`t pass fed because if federer had lost to andreev he would have started the week with 9350


Kimmi Says:

Hello, Ra..Welcome back.

federico: Thanks for the breakdown. Top 3 ranking is very close, Djokovic has more to gain for sure. Let’s see what will pan out at the end of the two weeks.

Ben: Nice read. It’s possible this match could be a blessing in disguise but could also be showing us a poor form from federer. He is not here with a lot of confidence. loses in Abu dhabi and Doha did not help. One match at a time.


jane Says:

Hi Ra – Happy New Year; I wouldn’t be so disappointed if the sneak attack came to pass. ; )

Ben – the forehand I remember most is the one when Andreev moved into the net, Fed was off balance mid-court, and Igor had a perfect passing shot set up for him, a gimme, and he missed by pushing it long. To me, that was a UE. He wasn’t forced to make that miss by pressure or whatever. It was there for him and he blew it by not moving into the shot effectively and over-hitting. Also, some of Fed’s forehand misses, I would call “forced” in the sense that the topspin on Andreev’s shots could be at least partially responsible for the shanks from Fed’s side. There were a few other really BAD misses by Andreev that personally I would call UNFORCED mainly becuase the shots were “there for him”. There were, however, a couple of misses that indeed were caused by the great defensive gets by Fed, which were reminiscent of the defensive gets Rafa sometimes makes against Fed and other players that FORCES the other guy to miss due to “shock” the ball is coming back hence being out of position or just unready to hit a good shot back, and missing etc.

Anyhow, enjoyed reading your take on things; it was a dramatic match for the first few sets, and especially the ups and downs and implosion of Igor – I think Enberg (whom I don’t love) said it well when he referred to it as “tennis theatre”.


Kimmi Says:

Kim Clijsters is having a good workout with Tanasugarn. great match.


Ra Says:

federico, thank you for the confirmation and breakdown.

Kimmi, thank you very much.

Jane, Happy New Year to you too! I want to see if Federer can manage to eke out however many more weeks he needs at number one to take the record, but Novak has grown on me over the years (as you may or may not remember my having mentioned forever ago). I would love to see Nole take some more GS titles. Actually, if it’s his priority, I could very easily see him dominating the rankings in the very near future and for quite awhile.

Of all the players in contention for that top spot in this more open era of the Open Era, Djokovic strikes me as having the most going for him (at least potentially). As much as I love Federer’s tennis, I think he looks more and more to be running on fumes. The thing there for me, though, is that he seems to have a vast tankful of fumes (which are often like jet fuel anyway) on which to run. And, Nadal… well, I can’t really put anything past Nadal, because he’s just freaking awesome. And, yeah, there are a bunch of others who deserve equal or near equal mention, but I’m already rambling. So it’s definitely a subjective judgment call, but that’s my take at this point.


jane Says:

A tankful of jet fuel fumes – ha! Good metaphor Ra. And Fed definitely has a lot of fumes on which to run.

Did anyone see why Roddick was angry with the ump? I missed it, as I flipped back to that streaming just when the match had ended.


Ra Says:

Glad you appreciate it, Jane.

Roddick felt that he had been in position and would’ve played the ball had it not been (incorrectly, as determined by the challenge) called out; he was arguing that the point should be replayed.


Kimmi Says:

On Roddick match point, Belluci hit the ball very close to the line but was called out. They both thought Roddick won the match, but belluci decides to challenge..surprise suprise the ball was IN. Umpire gave the point to Belluci but Roddick fuming saying to the umpire they should replay the point because he was there to play the ball. Umpire already made the decision..Roddick had no choice but to continue play..he then wins the next point with an error from belluci which was waaaay out.

Roddick comes to shake hands but still mad with the umpire. The Aussie crowd started to boo, hmmmm…BTW, replay shows he could have played the ball. Anyways he should forget it and conc. on the next round.


Kimmi Says:

Ra, you answered jane, did not see your post.


Ra Says:

Kimmi, your response was way more thorough and actually made sense while mine was cryptic. No worries.


jane Says:

Thanks guys. Sounds like the anger was valid if indeed he could’ve played the ball. But yeah, since the match was basically over, best to just move on sometimes. Got to say, I am very surprised that Berdych went out in straight sets to Korolev.


Kimmi Says:

Berdych lost, in straight sets! I thought he played well in brisbane, Korolev is an alright player but berdy !! when is the talent going to show? Whose draw was berdych..let me see..it is Gonzalez, hmmmm a little easier for him now I think.


Bjorn Borg Says:

Roddick was right to vent out his anger: “You think I am effing stupid.” The umpire was absolutely wrong to award the point to Belucci. The ball was undoubtedly playable. Similar stupidity from a Portuguese umpire yesterday. JMDP called out as soon as he hit the ball and stopped playing. The umpire says she did not not see him lift the racket. JMDP got into argument to no avail, was totally pissed off, lost his composure, got broken and lost the game and set.
That’s that.
All top players are playing really well. Roddick and Rafa looked really good tonight, so were Roger, Murray, Nole, and Davy the other day. JMDP was just OK. Hard to differentiate at this point.
JMDP-Blake match, also Cilic-Tomic, could be interesting later tonight.


jane Says:

Is it just me, or do Safina’s matches take, like, 19 hours? I can’t believe they’re only in the middle of the second set. It seems like that match has been on for a long time (almost 2 hours) to have completed only 1.5 sets.

BB – didn’t get to see much of JMDP’s match (a little of the first set, which seemed up and down), but he seems like such a calm guy overall, so it must have been a bad call for him to get that angry. It’s amazing how an ump can affect a match. At least in Roddick’s case it happened when he’d basically won the thing, so it wasn’t too serious. But it still matters!


Voicemale1 Says:

You could argue correctly about whether Federer’s errors we forced or unforced here. Federer’s difficulty was that Andreev uses almost a full Western Grip on his Forehand; he’s got almost as much action & torque on the ball as Nadal does, who also uses the same extreme forehand grip. On this slow hard court the ball explodes off the surface, especially in the heat of the day. The high bounce leads to what you could call “forced” errors from Federer, since controlling a ball with that much kick-up is problematic. The errors then look “unforced”, in that they go wide or long, but the truth is the errors in this case come mostly from the sheer weight of the Andreev Forehand.


tenisbebe Says:

Why in the Hell is everyone crunching on Andy’s going off AT THE END OF THE MATCH on a justifiably getable shot which was awarded to his opponent? Lordy, does anyone here actually play tennis? If you did you would understand his frustration – clearly he was there for that shot & the umpire screwed up. I would have let him know how I felt during such a crucial stage as well.


Ra Says:

Hey, did you all just see that press conference footage with Roddick? Impressive as always…


jane Says:

tenisbebe, I think (?) everyone here thought that Andy’s frustration was justified. I asked about it because I missed the call and didn’t know what had happened, and then Ra and Kimmi told me. BB confirmed that Andy was totally right to be angry.

Re: Safina’s match – got the duration wrong in that above post; it actually been going only 86 mins but for some reason seems long.


jane Says:

I wish Ra – have no T.V. coverage a.t.m. so am stuck with crappy footage. I love Roddick’s pressers. Maybe they’ll put up a video interview at the AO site and will get to see it later.


tenisbebe Says:

Jane – thanks for the clarification but it looked to me like y’all were lambasting him and although I am no Roddick fanatic, I did feel that he was way justified in blowing off some steam on that bad, bad call.


tenisbebe Says:

Janey – you have no TV coverage??? I though you were in Vancover or thereabouts. ESPN2 is live now, bummer.


jane Says:

I don’t have ESPN2 tenisbebe, and yeah, I am on the west coast. Yesterday there was coverage, so not sure why not tonight. Instead TSN is showing something called “Motoring”!!! I have been catching streams, but the quality isn’t always great, and I missed the end of Roddick’s match because I was flipping between 2 streams. So no, I wasn’t saying much re: the poor call, only that he’d practically won, so might as well move on. However, on the other hand, if he was victim of a really crap call, which it sounds like he was, then best to say something about it. Maybe the ump will be more careful next time if he / she gets an earful.


jane Says:

tenisbebe, from what I have seen it doesn’t look like Blake can beat Delpo even though Blake played some really nice, aggressive returns following them into net to finish off the point. Delpo just has more firepower overall and that wicked serve! He can end points so quickly with these shots.


Ra Says:

jane, I only saw a little segment, but Roddick was saying that he watched a replay of the bad call right after he walked off the court, and from what he saw the umpire was a lot less in the wrong than he’d thought. He’d expected to see himself clearly letting the ball go, but it was a lot more ambiguous than that (“hazy” was the word he used). So basically he loosened his stance without fully recounting (or at least that is the way I’d summarize the clip they showed). They showed the replay again at that point, but without sound or at least with the sound inaudible enough that I couldn’t hear the call. I could, though, see when he stopped going for it, and it looked like he could’ve at least got his racquet on it though he’d not likely have hit a winner. Still, there was a good enough chance that he’d have got it on the court, I think (but, really, I wouldn’t state that definitively without seeing the replay at least once more and with sound). In any case, he made no bones about swallowing his pride in the matter.


Ra Says:

Um, and by “recounting” I mean “retracting”…


Von Says:

@11:33 PM
A bunch of BS rhetoric!!
_____________

jane: “But yeah, since the match was basically over, best to just move on sometimes.”

http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2010-01-19/3048.php#comment-118175

“So no, I wasn’t saying much re: the poor call, only that he’d practically won, so might as well move on. However, on the other hand, if he was victim of a really crap call, which it sounds like he was, then best to say something about it.”

http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2010-01-19/3048.php#comment-118187

Well, which one is it? It would be best to move on, or say something about it????? And, only *SOMETIMES* the player should mention a bad call????

January 20th, 2010 at 2:17 am


Von Says:

oops double post @ 2:24 am.


jane Says:

Von, since I didn’t actually *see* the shot or the call, it’s tough for me to say definitively. By the sounds of it, it was a bad call, so Roddick should express his anger and move on. If it was a questionable call, however, then I’d say not to get too bothered, especially since he was so close to getting off the court, winning in straights.

Personally, I would say reactions to umpire calls depends somewhat on their context in the match (i.e., if it’s a bad call at a crucial juncture then it’s worth getting mad about, but other times it might be wiser to just play on rather than getting rattled and risk losing due to loss of focus or whatever). So yeah, for me, it really is more of a “sometimes” thing – depending on context and on how bad of call it is.


Ra Says:

Also, for those who didn’t see it, Roddick only briefly questioned the umpire before simply getting back to business by walking to the line and serving it out. It was only after the match was completed that he further confronted the umpire. Essentially, he smartly kept his focus and composure until the match was “done and dusted”.


jane Says:

I just read Andy’s interview, and I guess he didn’t even react really until the match was done, which was a good move I think, as he didn’t let his anger throw his focus from getting the W. That’s the drawback when players start venting; it can sometimes help them but it can sometimes hurt them because they hold onto the anger. In this case, Roddick did the right thing.

Although, in answer to this question: “Q. At 5‑4, two sets to love, match point, a match you’ve had under an enormous amount of control, is it worth the fight?”

Among other things, he said, “So, no, it’s not worth the fight. It wasn’t worth the fight at the time. When it was finished, I was really curious to hear what the exact ruling on it is.”

http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2010-01-20/201001201263967608703.html

Anyhow, I am going to sleep and I am leaving this topic behind.


Ra Says:

Goodnight, jane. Nice to see you.


jane Says:

Ra, sorry, some echoing going on in here. LOL. I didn’t see your post until after I’d written mine.


Ra Says:

Ha, no worries. I think it’s just how we roll around here.


jane Says:

Wow – Blake and Delpo are still at it!


Ra Says:

Wow, that was so worth staying up. Congrats, Del Potro! And what a performance from James Blake! Am basically speechless…


steve Says:

Blake showed incredible heart and maturity, playing very smart and tactically. But Del Potro was just too tough mentally and had too much game, and made no mistakes in the end.

The Henin-Dementieva match was also great (what little ESPN showed of it).


been there Says:

Quite a pity there had to be a loser. Blake was actually in control, or going toe-to-toe with Del.P for most of the match. Not quite a Fed-Rafa match but very close to it, imo. Of course, Fed-Rafa has the tension ‘coz of rivalry & rankings & crazy fans & their games being finals etc, so some ppl may never compare anything to it, but there are a great number of fantastic matches going on.

Blake has made small but noticeable improvements since he dumped his former coach of 15(+?) years. So for those who think he’s soon retiring, he’s going nowhere…just improving slowly with fresh insight from a new coach.

Del.P getting Blake for Rnd2 is just as bad, if not worse, than Fed getting Andreev for rnd1. These are not ‘walk-over’ materials. Especially Blake, he was ranked in the top20 for like forever but only dropped out in the 2nd half of last year after Wimby for whatever reasons. I’m still not sure what it is that contributed to the string of poor matches. But on his day, like today, he’s a top5 material. His 45th ranking is hence mis-leading to anyone who though Del.P was going to have an easy time.

I’ve no doubt that Blake’s gonna improve this year. Team Blake!


Dan Martin Says:

JMDP has heart! If the wrist holds up his potential match with Roddick looks interesting. Andy looks as lean and mean as I have ever seen him.


been there Says:

On the other hand, Del.P winning this type of match boards very badly for Fed and Rafa – should they get to meet. Not only does he have the forehand which they struggle against (while the likes of Blake, Murray, Davy, etc can handle), but he is now scrambling and winning 5th setters 10-8, while ‘injured’ (*cough cough*).

Bottom line, Del.P is fit to go and will scramble it 20-18 against a full tank Fed or Rafa should there be need…but he is most likely to finish it off before then. against them, he is 110% alert. I’ve always maintained that a slam format works better for Del.P than best-of-three events.


been there Says:

“Andy looks as lean and mean as I have ever seen him”

LOL – that’s funny. Yeah, he’s all business – there to play some real ball. No joking around.


Ben Pronin Says:

10-8 in the fifth, did not see that coming. I hope I catch a replay somewhere, it sounds like it was epic and the stats indicate quite the tussle.

Roddick was right in arguing. He shouldn’t dwell on it too much, obviously, but the umpire made the wrong call.


Cindy_Brady Says:

WOW…Fantastic stuff going on last night at the AO.

Delpo/Blake and Henin/Dementiava at the same time!

Delpo toughed it out with a slight injury and Henin is back. Needs to fix her serve toss, though.

Man, were Delpo and Blake blasting some rockets or what??

Can’t imagine anyone physically hitting a tennis ball harder or flatter than those two were and staying consistent. I love the early rounds of Grand Slams. There is always so much anticipation and excitement in the air. This is the stuff fans crave to witness.

MORE – MORE – MORE, PLEASE!!!


been there Says:

Ben, It was quite a tussle.

Blake had the early break in the 5th set. He was up 2-0, and had the opportunity to go 3-0….I was ready to type ‘by bye Del.P’…but Del.P is now a fighter, or maybe it’s his gneral calm demeanour. He didn’t flap, he scrambled and broke back either at deuce or 40-30 (can’t quite remember).

And the other sets were just as exciting. Many games went to deuce or 40-30 at each player’s serve; but if memory serves me correct, I think Del.P had to dig deeper on his serves and save himself a little bit more than Blake.

Maybe comparing it to a Fed-Rafa match is too much. I would put it in Fed-Roddick wimby ’09 category, but with many more rallies. And the net play, hmmm, was quite surprised to see Del.P having a bit of touch at the net. hehe. Still very awkward, but at least he was returning the many balls that Blake was slicing at the net. It was a very good match.


Ben Pronin Says:

Talk about a tussle. Cilic could not be playing much worse. Credit to Tomic but this is ridiculous.

Like I said, I hope I catch a replay because it sounds like it was great. I don’t see why comparing a match to another match has to be a big huplah. Federer and Nadal play different games than Del Potro and Blake, doesn’t mean they can’t all produce great matches.


Ben Pronin Says:

Now here’s a guy making unforced errors. Cilic is missing so many shots for absolutely no reason. Tomic isn’t Nadal, he’s not gonna get everything back with interest. But Cilic is just missing and missing easy shots. They’re all easy. Tomic isn’t giving him anything special or out of the ordinary. Cilic is making legitamite mistakes.


been there Says:

True Ben re: comparing different matches. Just that we’ve been spoilt by the intense drama of a Fed-Rafa match be it in an exho, 250, 1000 or GS…tennis world coming to a standstill. lol. But yeah, there are very many good matches going on.

I haven’t watched the Cilic-Tomic match, but what you say doesn’t surprise me. Cilic has a knack of getting caught in unnecessary/messy 4 or 5 setters…mainly 5! against any player whatever the ranking. If anyone gets a chance, checkout his GS results, if there’s a five setter, be sure to find Cilic in one of them, at whichever GS, at whatever round. Sometimes it’s one five setter followed by another in back-to-back rounds.

This is where he has to improve, refine his lines target ‘coz when he’s a bit off, he really misses many & these prolong his matches unnecessarily. I guess the upside is that he knows for sure he can stick around for a 5setter. He’s got all the talent – just bits of adjustments here and there then he’ll be ready to join fellow giant Del.P.

But again this Tomic guy is just 17yrs old. At that age, and with his ranking, he’s got nothing to lose and probably playing his very best. So massive credit to him. I’ve heard a lot about him, one to keep an eye on.

Speaking of which, whatever happened to ‘Fed 2.0′ Grigor Dimitrov? I suppose he’s still got plenty of time to improve, but haven’t heard much about him lately.


jane Says:

I went to bed in the middle of set 3 of Blake/Delpo as I have to work today, but when I woke up and got a drink of water at 2:00 I checked the scores and they were in a 5th so of course I lost another hour of sleep. LOL. Fantastic stuff, as others have said. I was very impressed with both players, and was sad to have to see someone “lose”. In the 5th it seemed to me so tough to call; both guys were holding under pressure each were putting on the other’s serves. And so much power – phew. Congrats to Delpo for battling through; better luck next time to Blake – hope he takes away the positives!

I agree with you Cindy that the early rounds at the slams can be thrillers as everyone is working their way into the event, and that can create for upsets or at least drama. Even though both Delpo and Fed had tough 1st/2nd round opponents, it sure made for a lot of drama, and exciting moments.

Ben – that’s still the thing with Cilic – the errors. When he can avoid them, he’s lethal, but sometimes he just whams them everywhere.


MMT Says:

Setting aside Roddick’s expletive laced-response to the situation, it seems he is (again) ill-informed concerning the rule. The decision of whether to play a let on a ball called “out”, and then reversed, rests with the umpire’s judgment of whether the “out” call inhibited the player’s ability to play the ball, and NOT with whether the player had a play on the ball. This rule has been misinterpreted because it is logically extended that if a player couldn’t get to the ball, there is no reason to play a let on a ball called out that is reversed. But this is a logical extension of the rule, and NOT THE RULE ITSELF.

Here is the difference:

If a player is in a position to play the ball, and he chooses not to IN ANTICIPATION of an out call, he has sealed his fate. Because the out call has not yet been made, and he was in a position to play it, and he CHOSE not to, the call had no impact on his ability to play the ball. As such, the umpire is COMPELLED to rule a let will NOT be played. In this case, the umpire ruled that Roddick lifted his racquet to play the ball, then did not play the ball and let it go (this is what Roddick told the courtside interviewer following the match.) In fact, the replays show that Roddick wasn’t in a position to play it anyway, so the whole discussion, as it turns out, is moot, but Roddick’s “apology” for his outburst was only in regards to this interpretation, and not the interpretation that the umpire gave him, which would ALSO exclude the playing of a let.

I’m a 4.0 USTA player, and have played extensively for 30 years, and I can tell you that the best players and officials make this mistake all the time, but it is indeed a MISTAKE. This is in fact the 3rd time I’ve observed Roddick making this mistake, all 3 of them ironically at the Australian Open, and he is yet to learn his lesson – the lesson is even if you think the ball is out, play the ball until you hear a call ANYWAY.

In 2008 Roddick played Kohlschreiber in the 3rd round, and didn’t play a ball at the baseline that he was very close to – the ball was called out AFTER he let it go, and reversed on review by hawk-eye, and he then berated the umpire for awarding the point the Kohlschreiber, saying he could have reached it. He also told him, “…If you don’t think I could have played that then you’re an idiot.” And then yelled to the now booing crowd that, “Stay in school kids, otherwise you’ll wind up an umpire!” amongst other assorted insults.

Last year in the semi-final with Federer he again let a ball go that he “could” have reached, the ball was subsequently called out, and was reversed on review. He then asked the umpire if he thought he could have reached the ball, and the umpire said, “No” – WITHOUT explaining that it was because he had already let the ball go (and thus couldn’t have reached the ball if the call hadn’t been made.) Roddick responded by telling the umpire, “You don’t believe that – have some sack.”

On all 3 occasions Roddick took the same action and each time lost the point with the same interpretation from 3 different umpires. Each of them ruled correctly, and Roddick insulted all of them in response. Now I don’t think Roddick is a bad guy, and he is very excitable on court, but he’s REALLY making an arse of himself by getting this wrong over and over again. He should learn the rule and learn his lesson and play the ball even if he thinks it’s out – if he doesn’t get it back in play and/or the call is overruled by the umpire, HE CAN STILL ask for a hawk-eye review.


Dan Martin Says:

Has anyone ever played on a Plexicushion court? I have not, but I think this surface does favor players who can counter punch a bit more where as Decoturf hard courts used at the U.S. Open seem to favor players who want to attack more (this is of course variations of a primarily baseline game in each case but the former wanting to grind as well as hit winners and the later other primarily looking to hit winners).

Anyway, I’d like to know the subtleties of plexicushion a bit more.


MMT Says:

The biggest difference between plexicushion (Australiaon Open) and Deco Turf II (US Open) is the give. We just happen to have a Plexipave (which partially comprises plexicushion) court provided by my home owners association and I have played on the courts at the William H. Fitzgerald tennis center in Washington DC, which are DecoTurf II, and the difference is that the absorption of energy in plexicushion, making it easier on the joints.

Players have referred to a grainy quality to the court, which they believe causes the ball to bite harder on the surface, and translate into more spin after the bounce with plexicushion. In my experience, the ball goes through the court more readily on DecoTurf II, than plexipave, and as such (in the abstract) give the advantage to players who press their opponent on the serve, by attacking the net and going for winners.

http://www.plexipave.com/tennis/plexicushion.html

http://www.irimee.ac.in/Tenders/Tender_Document_TennisIVF.pdf

Great question.


jane Says:

Dan, after his first round match, Djok said that he was finding it difficult to “hit winners” because, in his words, the conditions were “slow.” You’d think this would favour players like Murray and Nadal right?


Believer Says:

At last some one here has the guts to call a spade in this “Roddick can’t do not mistake and Umpire is a**hole” blogosphere. Thanks MMT for making it real and compelling. Thinking about this, you always see Nadal and Federer play that extra shot even after the line person has called the ball out. (even if it was clearly out). These guys make it a point to do that. It has become automatic, second nature habit or waht ever u want to call it. Learn roddic else suffer. Don’t bully the Umpire and get the wrath of true tennis loving sports people. I love Roddick for his efforts but he can be a bully some times. I am just suprised he didn’t bully “De-Bakker” in the first round. I guess he is maturing and learning from his follies (Not this time though!!)


margot Says:

Just posted and it seems to have got lost in the ether..so sorry if this is a double.
jane, kimmi and other Andy fans: Andy’s looking good, v. good and only a couple of teeny weeny walkabouts!
Voicemale1: think you said that you thought Andy had too many people round him? Well the only folks he has round him in Melbourne seem to be his mom(!) his coach and his physio. Seems to be playing more aggressively too.


madmax Says:

Hi Margot,

(as you seem to be one of the big murray fans on this forum along with Jane), in your opinion though, do you think that Murray has been “tested”? I don’t, so I would expect him to play really well against players ranked 57# and above –

Ben,

enjoyed reading the above article – but have to disagree on this point which you make:

“My point is that when you look at the men’s game today, unforced errors are extremely rare”.

I dont think they are really rare at all – I have taken down some of the stats in the mens game at the AO, and a lot of the players have a high ratio of UE’s to winners – so I wondered why you made this comment?

Some of “throwaway” points from federer yesterday actually involved him moving towards the net and going for the “easy shots” (for him), a dropshot -which on 3 occasions during the match, he missed and went into the net. – that was weird.

I am kind of used to seeing federer (unfortunately) hitting his backhand wide and so “gifting” the shot to his opponent. Would you call this an unforced error?


MMT Says:

been there: Dmitrov lost in the first round of 2010 AO qualifying to Robert Kendrick in 3 sets.

Coincidentally it was a really tough qualifying tournament this year. Kendrick went on to lose to Ryan Sweeting, who went on to lose to Stefan Koubek who qualified for the main draw and won his first round match to Rajeev Ram.

Koubek will now play Ivan Doudig, a Croatian, and is in Federer’s quarter of the draw.

Koubek and Kendrick are experienced veterans of the tour and are no joke. Kendrick took Andy Murray to 4 sets at Wimbledon last year and was up 2 sets to love to Nadal at Wimbledon in 2006.

Koubek has 3 career titles in Atlanta, Delray Beach and Doha – although they all came before 2003. He had career threatening back surgery in 2008, the resulting layoff causing his ranking to drop so low that he had to qualify for the Australian Open this year. But his highest career ranking was #20 in 2000.


Dan Martin Says:

Thanks for the info on the courts. The old Rebound Ace always looked sticky to me. It was really rubberized and obviously played slower than DecoTurf II, but it was like a hazard waiting to happen on hot days. The rubber cement would grab the rubber in the shoes and ankle issues galore. This court does not look like a safety threat at all (HD picture quality is why I am thinking more about this this year than the previous 2 years). The court does look like it plays slow a la rebound ace but also has that give on the joints and a safety factor not seen on Rebound Ace. Jane you are right I imagine this court will favor Nadal, Murray and a few others. The cushion on the joints may help Nadal as well. Still, a big dude like JMDP might be able to hit through a slow court, but also have more time to line up shots due to the court being slow.


fae coleman Says:

A well written article, I think you are spot on.

Info on the court surface was interesting too, I think the US open should have this surface, its kinda on the body of an athelete in a slam.


drew Says:

Im curious as to how the plexicushion surfaces can very so much. Did anyone see the highlights of the abu dhabi exhitbition at the start of the year. the ball was flying thru the court! faster than deco turf at us open, yet it was a plexi cushion court. Now I read that it was due to climate , but there’s no way. Its only 60-70 farenht in abu dhabi. moreover the talk is that doha is slow – right next to abu dhabi and the same plexicushion surface. WHATS GOING ON

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