David Nalbandian: “It’s Ridiculous Playing This Kind Of Tournament With This Kind Of Umpire”
by Staff | January 18th, 2012

Controversy struck the Australian Open Wednesday evening Melbourne. Embroiled in a deep, tense, tight fifth set with John Isner, David Nalbandian simply got screwed.

With Isner visibly cramping and near expiration at 8-8, ad-out, the American cracked a served down the middle. Initially, the ball was called out down the middle but chair umpire Kader Nouni promptly overruled the call giving Isner another first serve.

Nalbandian couldn’t clearly understand what had transpired but once he was told of the overrule he checked the spot and asked for a review. But Nouni wouldn’t allow it arguing Nalbandian took too much time to decide on the review, which was incorrect since there was confusion over the actual call.

Tournament supervisor Andreas Egli came to the court at Nalbandian’s request bu the Argentine wasn’t getting a look at a second serve on break point. Instead, Isner won the point, eventually held and, with Naldbandian stewing, broke David in the very next game.

And after 4:41, game, set, match Isner 46, 63, 26, 76, 10 8.

Here’s Nalbandian:

Q. It’s never nice to lose in very controversial circumstances, but clearly it was a pretty dispiriting end to the match for you.

Q. What do you make of the umpire’s decision in that 8All point?
DAVID NALBANDIAN: I asked for HawkEye and he make an overrule. Because the lineman call out. He overrule it. Was a lot of noises, so I asked what happened, because the lineman called out.

He told me he overruled it. And I say, Okay, I see the mark. I say challenge. Not a big deal. He don’t want to do it.

Q. Why did he say you couldn’t have HawkEye?
DAVID NALBANDIAN: Too late. How many times everybody check the mark and ask for the HawkEye?

So somebody from the umpires or ATP, somebody can explain to me this situation. I mean, what is this? This is a Grand Slam.

Q. Then the supervisor came.
DAVID NALBANDIAN: Yeah, supervisor say it’s umpire call. So what I have to do now? I mean, I don’t see the video, but I don’t think it was too late to call. John say, Yeah, ask. I mean, the HawkEye, and umpire didn’t want to.

I mean, it’s ridiculous playing this kind of tournament with this kind of umpires. What is this? What did the ATP do for this? I didn’t understand in that situation, 8All break point. I mean, can you be that stupid to do that in that moment?

Q. And a lot of crowd noise, as well.
DAVID NALBANDIAN: I mean, what the umpires need, press? Name? Be on the picture tomorrow? Incredible.

Anyway, I didn’t lose for that, but that’s was very bad situation. Was amazing.

Q. You took a break at 67 in the fifth set as well, a toilet break.
DAVID NALBANDIAN: Yeah, I couldn’t hold it. (Laughter.)

Q. Yeah, but, you say you didn’t lose because of that. So how did it influence then the next game, the next point?
DAVID NALBANDIAN: He played a great game. I think I do just one mistake or I think I didn’t do any one. He played a very good game.

Q. Did you think about it or…
DAVID NALBANDIAN: No, I tried to not, but, never know.

Q. You have played many, many Grand Slam matches in your career. Is that as disappointing an ending as you can remember, as annoying from your point of view? It was a great match.
DAVID NALBANDIAN: Yeah, it was a great match. But I think I think I lose another one like that, as well: semifinals US Open with Andy Roddick was another one, more important this second round today.

Yeah, but could be one of those, yeah.

Q. Do you know what the rule is for how long you have?
DAVID NALBANDIAN: It’s no time. It’s no time.

Q. There’s no timing manner?
DAVID NALBANDIAN: Yeah, the time that the umpire see it.

Q. Did you see him hobbling late in the match? Did you think you wore him down, particularly when you got those break chances?
DAVID NALBANDIAN: No, no, no. You win the match when you won the last point, so it doesn’t matter what is going in the middle of that.

Q. Will you be making an official complaint to the ATP or to the supervisor or to the Grand Slam…
DAVID NALBANDIAN: Doesn’t make any sense. I mean, if they really want to do something, I don’t need to do anything, because it’s on the TV, on the video.

And every time talk to ATP, it’s like nothing, so what is ATP is for the players or for somebody else, the benefits?

Q. What would you do if you, in your next Grand Slam, you walk out and you see the same umpire in the chair? Would you be happy?
DAVID NALBANDIAN: I don’t think he  I don’t think he’s gonna be able to do this kind of matches. I mean, it’s no doubt about it.

Q. You don’t think he’s qualified? You don’t think he’s up to it?
DAVID NALBANDIAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. No doubt. Nothing happen on the match, and in that moment, he call overrule, I call HawkEye, and he didn’t give it.

I never see something like that. So ATP have to check what they doing for the umpires. I mean, they practice? They what? I don’t know.

Q. Well, he spends most of his time umpiring on the WTA Tour. That’s true.
DAVID NALBANDIAN: (Laughing.) They serve too slow for these kind of guys.

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28 Comments for David Nalbandian: “It’s Ridiculous Playing This Kind Of Tournament With This Kind Of Umpire”

Epsilon Says:

I hate those media guys. Many of them just want to bring the worst from (and probably the worst of) the players. They’re effectively pushing him to say what he “should” say in order to make the story interesting. It reminds me of our state media in Egypt before and during the revolution, asking guests questions like: “Don’t you think that his comments are outrageous interference in Egypt’s internal affairs?” That kind of ting.

Epsilon Says:

Correction: thing.

Skeezerweezer Says:


Can you post a vid of the incident?

Lulu Iberica Says:

I didn’t see the match, but I have to say in other matches players were allowed to check the mark before challenging. Rafa did it in his match and the commentators (P-Mac, I think) were questioning whether that was appropriate.

Wheeler Says:

The one flaw with HawkEye still is the stupid requirement to *immediately* challenge and the lax and differing enforcement by various umpires. As long as the player wants to challenge before the next point begins, what’s the problem? At least give the poor player a moment to recollect how many challenges he has left and think whether or not he should challenge. The big players lazily walk up to the net to see where the ball dropped and then they challenge after taking some time. Some umpires allow it, some don’t. WHERE’S THE F**KING STANDARDIZED RULE AND ITS ENFORCEMENT??? ATP AND ITF, PLEASE REMOVE THE REQUIREMENT TO CHALLENGE RIGHT AWAY, JUST MAKE THEM CHALLENGE BEFORE THE NEXT POINT!!!!

jane Says:

Boo, I wanted Nalby to win. Was the ball out or in? Do we know? Sometimes the commentators show a ball as in or out even if a player doesn’t challenge, so did they do so this time?

Skeezerweezer Says:


Taking too long causes gamesmenship issues, u need to be decisive, not contemplating, no?

roy Says:

looking at the mark is standard.
if you care about the truth of the situation, be it player, umpire or fan, you shouldn’t care too much. you’ll just want to know whether the call was right.
hawkeye shouldn’t be a game, it should be about truth.
it should be available to chair umpires to correct calls that are wrong. if not mid rally then certainly for point enders.
the other day the umpire actually recommended a player not to challenge when in fact the call was wrong. i believe stebe lost his serve because of this. seconds later the replay is up showing he wasn’t broken. it’s absurd.
one of these days a big match will be decided by a bad call which nobody challenged/could challenge.

RZ Says:

Jane, the ball was out. Even Isner suggested to Nalbandian that he challenge. So Nalbandian should have had a chance at Isner’s second serve.

It’s really silly to say it’s too late if all Nalbandian was doing was asking for clarification in the time between the call and his request.

jane Says:

Thanks RZ. That’s a shame. It sounds like Nalby doesn’t think it lost him the match, but these things do play on the mind sometimes.

rogerafa Says:


Very good points about the use and abuse of hawkeye. Some players are better than others in utilizing the HE and many use it sometimes for tactical reasons. When the technology is available, it doesn’t make sense not to use it. It should be at the discretion of the chair umpire but the convention should be such that whenever there is the slightest doubt, they must get the HE verdict. As it is, most players take so much time between points that there will not be too much delay due to more frequent use of HE in deciding close calls. The objective should be to get it right as you said. I do not know if that overrule was correct or not. If it was a wrong overrule, then it was pretty decisive given the context of the match. Nalbandian was being remarkably generous in saying that it didn’t affect the outcome of the match.

Ben Pronin Says:

Imo, the only reason the umpire should say a player took too much time is if he clearly looks up at his box to see if the coach thinks he should make a challenge. Otherwise, it doesn’t really matter. It’s not like the players just stop and stare at the mark for 5 minutes, they walk up to it, look at it, and determine whether they want to challenge or not.

rogerafa Says:

@ RZ

Thank you for the information. That really is tough luck for Nalbandian. Getting a look at the second serve of a huge server like Isner on break point is priceless especially at such a late stage in the match. With Isner apparently cramping, a break at this stage would probably have killed his spirit and lifted Nalbandian. Sadly, it worked the other way round. I always thought that supervisors could overrule the chair and it is unfortunate that despite the existence of technology, he did not deem it fit to interfere given the context of the situation.

Kimberly Says:

I remember agreeing with Federer that they should not have allowed delpo challenge at USO, there really has to be some time frame on it. He had taken over ten seconds. Federer was already at the changeover when delpo decided to (incorrectly) challenge.

Dgjourney Says:

It was a fantastic match and a horrible way to end it. Nalbandian is a class act. He was definitely robbed at that moment and there was NO reason he shouldn’t have been able to challenge. It was under 30 seconds from the ball hitting, his confusion of the call, then checking the spot and challenging. The ball was clearly out and not even that close.

Kimberly Says:

two words

Mariana Alves===the worst umpire ever. she is still calling and even calling serena’s matches again.

Skorocel Says:

Really sad to see such talent go away like this…

Skorocel Says:

When you think how much time guys like Nadal or Djokovic take before their serves (and, in 99,99 % cases, go away with it), this looks like a bad joke…

El Flaco Says:

Some umpires are savvy. When they see a player slowly contemplating a challenge or perhaps unaware of the call they will say to the player “The ball was called good. Do you want to challenge?” Nalbandian was clearly confused and the umpire should have said “I overruled the out call on the serve. Do you want to challenge?” Instead he let Nalbandian fart around. If you listen the umpire said DEUCE about a second before Nalby said challenge. Once the umpire calls the score it is too late.

Regardless, Nalbandian choked really badly on 2 previous break points. He had 2 easy backhands for winners and missed them.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

rob, I totally agree with you. The most important thing is whether the call is right or wrong; just playing with semantics and putting obstacles in the way of players righting a wrong is unfair on the players. So long as the challenge is within the time limit for the next point whether they walk up to check the mark or not it should be allowed.

The line judge and the umpire can make a mistake but the player is put in a straight jacket and dares not put a foot wrong.

If the umpire overrules the line judge HawkEye should be automatic without the player having to use up one of his lives to check it, because it’s not clear cut whether the ball is good or not.

Michael Says:

Nalbandian’s outburst against the Umpire is perfectly justified. In a major tournament like this we cannot just have Amateur Umpires who do not know the rules of the game officiating. It is a disgrace really. Why can’t the Authorities who earn so much during such majors atleast take care to appoint Professional Umpires who have proved themselves. If they demand more, why can’t they pay it ? It is just a case of “penny wise pound foolish”. The problem is it affects the psyche of players and today in such a close match and that too in a break point, Nalbandian’s feelings that he has been robbed of a victory is perfectly justified.

Michael Says:

Skorocel, Like it or not, the rules are quite different for the top players and the rest. It is just like that – you cannot do anything about it.

Michael Says:

Tommy Haas might have played his last Australian Open when he lost to Nadal. He is such a wonderful player who couldn’t fulfil his potential just because of his injury prone career as well as being in a era which was dominated by Roger. He is 33 and still he gave a good fight to Nadal and especially in the first set at 4-5, he had a break point chance which he couldn’t convert because Nadal served his first ace at the right moment and followed up with another. That is hard luck. He was also the one who almost spoiled Federer’s dream at the 2009 French Open when Roger escaped by the skin of his teeth with a desperate shot which unfortunately for Haas found the line. That is Haas, an unlucky player to say the least.

raven Says:

Where is Jamie and her psychic. I have been waiting to hear what she has to say. The psychic was right on last year, I am really curious about who she thinks will win AO.

Eric Says:

unfortunate happenings, but Nalby lost because he stopped trying to return Isner’s serves halfway through the fourth set.

Steve 27 Says:

sucha looser!

alison hodge Says:

raven i dont know where youve been,but jamies said numerous times, till he/she is blue in the face that nole will win the ao,as his pyschic friend has said his chart is spotless,its getting boring h/s has mentioned it that many times YAWN.

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