Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: The Chair Umpire Wouldn’t Overrule Calls Because Of Rafa
by Tom Gainey | March 29th, 2012, 11:38 am

After a tough, three-set loss last night to Rafael Nadal in the Sony Ericsson Open Miami quarterfinal, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga unloaded on chair umpire Damian Steiner who the Frenchman says wouldn’t overrule important calls because of Nadal.

“I was complaining because all the match, you know, I’ve got to I have to challenge, and I was right, you know, many, many times,” a frustrated Tsonga said. “(Steiner) never take, you know, initiative when it’s against Rafa, you know. And you know now it’s all the time like this. All the time.

“I have to be, you know, really focused, you know, on the ball, because if the ball is out, it would never if it’s really close, he would never say out against Rafa. Always to say against me. If Rafa don’t like him anymore, I mean, he would not be in the chair many times on final and semifinal.

“So sometimes, I mean, it’s not fair. Because I have to take decision, you know, all the time. And he never take decision. He just say the score. That’s why, you know, sometimes I’m upset about it.”

Tsonga was seen several times during the match in conversation with Steiner, and he did makes challenges that went his way. But Tsonga says he shouldn’t have to always be the one taking the initiative and it’s weighing on his mind.

“It’s like a double work,” Tsonga said. “I have to watch the ball and the line and everything, and I have to play. I mean, then, you know, it come in your head and you focus on it and you don’t have to. Then, you know, I lose my concentration, you know, sometimes because of that.”

Nadal said Tsonga was correct that the chair umps overrule less these days, but Jo-Wilfried was wrong in his claims that umpires like Steiner are scared of Nadal.

“I understand sometimes the frustration on this situations,” responded Nadal. “Because that is true that the referees with the Hawk Eye are doing less overrules than before. I said hundreds of times, too, no? But is not because he’s playing against me. No, no. Happen to me a lot of times, no? Easy to remember. In Australia, you remember against Berdych the very important points 6-all in the tiebreak of the first set? So he didn’t make overrule, too, and ball was clear out. So I called the challenge late and the point was for Berdych.

“So is not a thing with me,” Nadal added. “Is a thing, general thing with the referees today that with the Hawk Eye I believe that they feels that they have less pressure than before. So probably knowing that you have the challenge, they don’t take the risk to have to overrule. He’s right in one thing; he’s wrong in another thing.”

Part of Tsonga’s disgust can be attributed to the fact he simply didn’t play well on a court he was playing on for the the first time during the event.

“I didn’t play a good match,” Tsonga admitted. “Didn’t play a good match. Didn’t start well. I mean, it tooks many time to get used to the surface. Was not the same as outside. I played all the time outside. o it took like two sets for me to get used to the surface. So after that, I played a bit better, just a bit better. It was enough to come back. That’s it.”

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10 Comments for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: The Chair Umpire Wouldn’t Overrule Calls Because Of Rafa

Steve 27 Says:

noah is to blame for all this. stupidity after stupidity saying, implying that the Spanish take the “pill.” is pathetic

Eric Says:

Agree with both a bit guys here. It’s one thing for the linesmen to make mistakes, especially on close calls — it’s another for the umpire not to notice, care, or do anything when the ball is out by several inches — it’s not Tsonga’s job to both play and umpire the damn match, and he had to do it several times. But it’s got nothing to do with Nadal, just inattentive umpires who think they don’t have to be as careful anymore because the players can get Hawkeye review.

Dave Says:

Just because the umpire missed one point that should have gone Nadal’s way does not explain several other points that could have gone Berdych’s way during their AO match. A neutral observer from Mars would probably question the umpire’s bias in last night’s match.

There is credible evidence that umpires tend to favor top players like Nadal. In the recent controversy regarding time delays, the head of umpires himself admitted that pretty much the only two culprits are Nadal and Djokovic (meaning these two players have been able to get away with their time violations). A lower ranked player revealed that he would be penalized for time delays while higher ranked players got away with much worse.

‘ “The reason why this has become an issue is because two or three top players are slower than other players,” said Enric Molina Mur, head of officiating for the ITF, which oversees the four Grand Slam tournaments and Davis Cup… Some also say higher-ranked players receive preferential treatment. “If I try to do the same thing I’m going to get warning when the same person is spending 10 seconds longer,” veteran American Michael Russell said.’

Ajet Says:

Actually such things happen everywhere! everywhere there is reluctance or negligence to do the duty these days! umpires too have the same nature as most of the other people who’re not to setious about doing their duty properly! and nowhere anybody dares to mess with the strongers and the influentials, even if justice so requires! why invite their irk and face loss! instead be an accomplice and enjoy the perks! and btw, this issue is not about just about tennis or nadal! this is about life in every sphere!
life was never fair!

Ajet Says:

it should be read as ”who’re not too serious” instead of ”who’re not to setious” in my previous post.

Sean Randall Says:

Tsonga needs to stop wasting time bitching/moaning and start working on or, better still, shelving that horrific dropshot of his.

Ajet Says:


Dave Says:

Out of 205 points played, Nadal won just 5 points (and had 2 breakpoints) more than Tsonga. If the umpire was impartial and had Tsonga played a previous match on center court (that was his first center court and night match wasn’t it), what are the odds that this could have been Tsonga’s third consecutive ATP victory over Nadal? Let me ask my psychic for clarity.

Michael Says:

I am not sure if Tsonga is justified in making such a charge that the Umpires are partial towards Nadal. There might be some decisions in which he was upset, but to generalize it in the manner he has done will only invite retribution. He has to be more careful in future while giving interview.

Dave Says:

Tsonga (and 2,000 other ATP players) have had enough of seeing cowardly umpires being partial and giving in to Nadal — whether it’s line calls, unentitled toilet breaks within a set, time violations, medical time outs at critical moments during a match, coaching during match from Uncle Toni, grunting, etc, etc. I salute Tsonga’s bravery in taking the bull by the horns and making this issue public… in the hope that umpires are more consistent and impartial in their umpiring.

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