Novak Djokovic Sounds Cool (And Confused) With The ATP Time Rule, But Recognizes His Ball Bouncing Might Be An Issue
by Tom Gainey | March 11th, 2013, 3:47 pm

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.

You Might Like:
Andy Murray Thinks The Time Rule Will Be Good Long Term, Wouldn’t Mind An On-Court Serve Clock
Roddick in Rare Form Saturday in Miami vs. Chair Umpire
Federer, Nadal Argue Over Time Violations, Who’s Right And What’s The Answer?
Serena Lets Loose on Umpire Again, Loses to Stosur in US Open Final
Rafael Nadal: Roger Will Be A Challenge, He Is Playing Fantastic

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get the FREE TX daily newsletter

15 Comments for Novak Djokovic Sounds Cool (And Confused) With The ATP Time Rule, But Recognizes His Ball Bouncing Might Be An Issue

juljo724 Says:

Even the top player in the world is still confused about what the exact rules are. Sounds like the players weren’t really fully informed of the changes made last September.

jane Says:

Interesting points by Nole – firstly that the ball people need to be “on the ball” so to speak so the players can be to, AND the receiver has to be ready to receive!

There were a couple of times last night where Fabio was making Nole wait to serve! Even the commentators I was listening to noted this. Wouldn’t’ve been ironic if Nole was given a time violation but Fabio wasn’t on the line ready to receive. I guess it’s just fire away – and if the receiver isn’t ready, tough cookies.

Not very gentlemanlike, though. ;)

Fleischer Says:

Nole wants the time to be measured only till he gets to the line.
He knows very well that he the ONLY one who takes so much of time (bouncing, bouncing, bouncing….) AFTER getting to the line.

If it is measured only till the server gets to the line it would benefit him a lot….smart guy.

suzette Says:

@ Fleischer, actually Nadal has been clocked taking longer than Novak

skeezer Says:


Shammooonn! Slam dunk material girl!


“Djokovic agreed that the rule needs some clarification but seems to be ok with it.”

Gee, you mean its not a DISASTER?????

Way to be on point and on board Djoker, current #1 in the world and won a Major with the new rules in effect. In fact, won majors with it not in effect. Guess he can adjust , eh?


Hey @ Fleischer, remember this at last years IW?

5-4. 2nd set, Fed serving for the match…….

“Hey, ump…I have to go right now…really…it can’t wait….yeah I know he is serving for the match but….but….gotta go…really look I am running off to unc toni …he calls…he says time out…errr.or whatever..anyways gotta go ….bye…..he says I have to talk to him, no? Sorry ump…gotta go.”

Fed, ever so humble and not bought in to it all, sits humbly, patiently waits…..ready to finish it off despite the gamesmanship. He does. Game, Set, Match, GOAT.

alison Says:

Fleischer/Suzette its all a bit tit for tat regarding your comments to each other,one person abusing the rules less than another,as opposed to one doing it more than another is still breaking the rules,two wrongs dont make a right never did,Novak,Delpo and especially Rafa are notorious for it,Novak is adjusting to the rules now(fair enough),and although i havent seen much of Rafa since his return,going by the Harrison match i dont believe he was given a warning about his time either(although people can correct me if im wrong,as im not a biased Rafa fan),so hopefully hes also adapting to the rule,i think im with Jane in that there needs to been some clarification,as there seems to be some misunderstanding from the players point of view,ie towelling,bouncing,ball kids,on the bassline is it all inclusive in the 25 seconds blahdy blah.

Michael Says:

Novak these days is not perpetually bouncing the ball till eternity. He has done away with that habit. He has also changed his service action and has added more power. As a result, his serve today has become a potent weapon and more lethal and it is another asset in his repertoire. But Novak seemingly is not clear with the new rules. Surprising, the No.1 has not been briefed about it. I think the ATP should also take the players views into consideration before bringing up any new rules. In this case, I am not sure it was done. Nevertheless, time violation was a rule which was already there but was never implemented by the Umpires.

alison Says:

^Doesnt that just go to show then that he went with the flow,and was happy to carry on regardless,as long as he and others were getting away with it,just saying^.

jamie Says:

Ball bouncing is not that bad.

Arse picking is really bad….

Fleischer Says:


But with respect to time violations we all know that Rafa’s picking takes much lesser time compared to Nole’s bouncing.

Fleischer Says:

suzette Says:
@ Fleischer, actually Nadal has been clocked taking longer than Novak

March 11th, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Yes I agree that Rafa takes a little bit more overall compared to Nole. But Nole’s ball bouncing time AFTER he gets to the service line is longer than any other tennis player. Rafa, Delpo, etc. take more time before getting to the line. Nole knows this and thats why he is making a SELF SERVING suggestion of taking the time measurement till the server gets to the line and not till the completion of the serve.

Fleischer Says:


Yes rafa missed it. Hopefully he gets the bathroom break timing right the next time and breaks the rythm of the opponent. But he should not try this against Federer. Federer himself is THE master of bathroom breaks. He is always successful in timing the break and breaking the opponents rythm.

Hope you remember this too:

Better luck next time.

skeezer Says:


Rafa didn’t miss anything. Its is SOP, he has a history of these types of incidents. MTO’s, timely breaks, and I defer to you. Rafa is the Master of the use of “Time”.

Ok, is there a difference between taking a break after a set is over or serving for the match?

On second thought, never mind, you won’t get it.

Fleischer Says:

And there is definitely a difference between taking a bathroom break to go to bathroom and taking a bathroom break because of sun….that is plain cheating….im sure you wont get this point…not someone who claims a 250 win is bigger than a GS final….LOL

Chico Says:

I am sorry Fleischer but really have got to lean towards skeezer here. Firstly 250 or GS doesn’t really matter. It is a match, and all Fedals go to the history books. And they know it too.

Secondly, if you take a bathroom break, between the sets is when you take it. And we are talking about trying to affect something like the weather conditions to be able to play better onself, not so much messing up the other player. So yes, gamesmanship, but “master of bathroom brakes”?

Top story: Tsitsipas, Rublev To Meet In Monte Carlo For First Masters Title