Novak Djokovic won his second round match yesterday over Fabio Fognini at the BNP Paribas Open, extending his win streak to now 19 matches. The World No. 1 afterward addressed the ATP’s new enforcement of the time violation rule that has Rafael Nadal so up in arms.
Djokovic agreed that the rule needs some clarification but seems to be ok with it.
“I don’t complain about maybe me exceeding the time limit time‑wise,” said Djokovic who was given an earlier warning in Dubai. “I just think that there is a situation where sometimes it takes ‑‑well, several times it took them quite a bit, you know, to give me a towel, to understand what I want, dropping the balls. So you’re losing a lot of time there.
“Then I’m stepping on the line and I see that my opponent is not ready. Then when he’s ready, I started bouncing my ball, you know, and then it takes another five, six seconds because I bounce maybe more than my opponents do. So that’s where I lose the time. So that was my argument.
“I believe that as soon as I’m on the line‑‑ because he told me that the rule is that he measures the time when you toss the ball. That’s when it stops, not when you are on the line. Which I didn’t understand it that way. In the past it was ‑‑I mean, mostly the chair umpires would tell me just get to the line and that’s okay.”
Djokovic admitted that he also didn’t know when the clock started either. But that part of the rule needs to be subjective.
“I guess it starts as soon as the previous point is over, which I agree with,” he said. “I just think that, you know, there has to be a certain kind of tolerance in terms of, you know, recognizing the time where you get the towel, balls, all these things, you know. Because I’m on the line for sure before the time limit. And then I bounce the ball and everything because I see that my opponent is not ready. So that’s where the confusion was a little bit today.
But everything aside that was fine.”
Under the new policy this year, chair umpires no longer will levy point penalties for exceeding the 25 seconds to serve ATP rule. Instead, they will give a softer fault penalty. The result has been that umpires are more willing to call violations now, and that’s what’s been happening the first two months of the year.
Novak may also need to cut down on the ball bouncing to avoid further penalties.
Djokovic continues his quest for a third Indian Wells title tomorrow against Grigor Dimitrov.
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