Andy Murray Thinks The Time Rule Will Be Good Long Term, Wouldn’t Mind An On-Court Serve Clock
by Tom Gainey | March 11th, 2013, 3:58 pm

US Open champion Andy Murray weighed in on the time rule debate. After a three set win yesterday over Evgeny Donskoy, here’s what the Scot had to say about the ATP’s new enforcement of their 25-second policy:

“I think 25 seconds, it’s almost long enough, but it’s just because that never really had been enforced before,” Murray said. “The guys were very surprised when it happened. You know, when you’re out bouncing the ball‑‑ I got my time violation in Brisbane when I was bouncing the ball for my serve, and beforehand it was used to be that once you started your motion the bouncing was part of that. Now it’s obviously not. It’s a new change for everyone to get used to. But I think in the long term it will be good, but just with a little bit more tinkering.”

But like Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, he agreed there needs to be some allowance after long points.

“Once you get to 4‑All in a set or something it’s natural to try to take more time,” Murray said. “And sometimes after a longer point, as well, it’s natural to try and get a few extra seconds to recover. My feeling was that the time ‑‑because the points are way longer than they used to be now and it’s more physical. Actually sometimes it can I think be impossible to recover from a 60‑shot rally in 20 seconds.”

There has been talk on this blog and elsewhere of an on-court shot clock like they have in basketball, and Murray isn’t opposed. “I wouldn’t mind if there was a clock on the court, no. But obviously‑‑ as long as it doesn’t make the noises.”

Since reaching the final in 2009, Murray has had his struggles at Indian Wells losing three straight matches until his win yesterday. And he admits he really doesn’t know the reason for his poor performance in the California desert.

“I don’t know why I didn’t play well last year,” he said. “This year, yeah, I started slow and I was probably nervous, because even though I had been practicing well, you know, having it in the back of your head that you played poorly the last couple of years and struggled, that’s always going to be a thought. So I don’t know. Normally when I first played here I liked the conditions here. For the three, four years after that I always had decent results. I don’t know exactly why.”

Murray meets Yen-Hsun Lu on Tuesday.

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18 Comments for Andy Murray Thinks The Time Rule Will Be Good Long Term, Wouldn’t Mind An On-Court Serve Clock

jane Says:

This seems like a very balanced view:

“But I think in the long term it will be good, but just with a little bit more tinkering….But like Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, he agreed there needs to be some allowance after long points.”

skeezer Says:

That first paragraph by Andy is spot on and well said!


“I wouldn’t mind if there was a clock on the court, no. But obviously‑‑ as long as it doesn’t make the noises.”

Aww c’mon Andy, a Bull Horn would be hecka fun!

( J/K )

juljo724 Says:

Agreed with jane! Just as has been said on this site, discretion (or “tinkering”) needs to be used and in the other blog about Nole, maybe the players need to be fully informed about what the EXACT rules are so everyone is on the same page.

Michael Says:

What matters is not merely rules but its strict enforcement which is what lacking. I think this new time limit rule is a blessing in disguise for players and makes the contest truly secular without giving undue advantage to those who commit time violation as their birth right. I am happy that many of the top players are in agreement to this new rule and they are not having problems. The only glitch is Rafa who thinks that this new rule is preposterous. But when consensus is eluding, it is the brute majority which seals a case.

MMT Says:

They don’t need tinkering – they just need to get on with it. Tennis makes the most money when casual fans, who don’t have the patience of hard core fans, stay interested in the game. That’s why they’re always humping the next “rivalry” and/or “star”, because real tennis fans would watch their grandmother play if she had a decent backhand.

Nothing makes networks run from tennis faster than matches that should be done in 2 hours that take 3. And nothing makes the casual fans more irritated than watching a tennis player towel off, bounce the ball 20 times, pick at their butt, complain to their team, adjust their hair, wipe their brow, and all the other absurd things they do in between points.

It’s part of the culture because the game is in a boom period, but I guarantee that when it goes into it’s next slump (which it will – it always does) people won’t be so forgiving of all the nonsense and then the culture will evolve out of the need to survive.

BTW – there are current players who stay well within the time limit and somehow find a way to play very good, entertaining tennis, so I don’t agree with this argument that we need balance and tinkering to preserve the quality of the game. Moses needs to come to the mountain.

Also, I don’t know what Murray’s basis for comparison is – it’s not like he played 30 years ago, so how does he know how taxing the points were physically? I’m sure if you asked Laver, he wouldn’t say that it was a walk in the park in his day. But if they got winded, they had tools in their technical tool kit to shorten the next point.

And not every modern point is a 30 shot rally – that too is a myth.

If they have a shot clock they can deal with the occasional really long points with a simple hand gesture request for an additional 30 seconds – say 1 per game, and an additional ONE once deuce is reached – but only the server can do this, not the returner otherwise, as the french say, it becomes a complete brothel…well that doesn’t really translate, but it becomes a mess.

This way the audience are aware that there is a good, but LIMITED, explanation for why things are taking so long, and mentally can get around watching players delay from time to time.

I think someone on another thread made mention of Ivan Lendl, and I have to say that while he did take his time, the time violation rules were really aimed at Jimmy Connors, not with Ivan Lendl. When Connors started playing the rule was continuous play – no breaks in between points. Then Connors came with a brand of tennis not unlike the modern game – bruising points from the back court – and also developed a habit of prolonging the time in between points to the annoyance of everyone except his own fans.

The time violation rules were instituted and players like Ivan Lendl DEVELOPED routines in between points that lasted the entire amount of time allotted. So the rule actually made time in between points take LONGER, not the other way around.

I should also note that I watched Lendl play for 15 years, and while he got A LOT of time violation warnings, I NEVER saw him complain it, and he would simply adjust his routine to ensure he didn’t get a point penalty…which by the way, I don’t recall him EVER getting for time violations – not in 15 years.

Actually these players today are real sissies about this – they get warnings! They even say, “Code violation….warning Mr. X”. And they act like spoiled children who can’t tolerate even the slightest hint of being chastised.

It’s all a nonsense – they just need to get on with it. My ideal solution would be to go back to the continuous play rule, but short if that, I would institute a shot clock that starts when the point is over and there is a violation if the serve isn’t hit before the clock reaches zero. If they don’t have time to wait for the ball-boy to get their towel then they’ll just have to pull their socks up and serve anyway.

I know, I know, the droplets of sweat on their elbow and eyebrow that they just have to wipe away will be really tough to handle, but I think eventually they’ll manage.

Colin Says:

Michael, you say the time rule “makes the contest truly secular”. What does that mean?

Margot Says:

I am a huge Rugby fan and in UK we have 6 nations contest at the mo.
Same set of rules for every match but….my oh my the different interpretation of those rules by different referees is really amazing. A ref can make or break a match too by not allowing the play to flow and ruthlessly applying the letter of the law to every situation.
To a lesser degree it’s the same in tennis. As you say, the rules are there but they certainly get interpreted/applied differently certainly between tournaments but also within tournaments.
I remember we chatted about this before.

Colin Says:

Margot, what amazes me about rugby is how anybody can referee it at all – there are so many things to consider, often in a split second. On the face of it you’d think tennis should be much simpler. The ball’s either in or out, and there’s a gadget to demonstrate it. The time issue does, I suppose, have to be a bit flexible. Wasn’t it Delpo who said after a long rally you need time to get your breath back?
One thing occurs to me about a clock on court – the crowd would probably count the seconds very audibly and distract the server. They ooh and ah a lot while watching a hawkeye result, but that’s different as it’s after the actual event.

MMT Says:

@Margot – I guess this an argument for a shot clock, which I prefer to the current situation, but not to continuous play. One thing I will say is this – in 1991 McEnroe was defaulted from the Australian Open after berating an official after having received a point penalty. Apparently he was unaware (and to this day blames his agent for not informing him) that the rule had been changed to eliminate the game penalty (probably due in no small part to McEnroe himself, but I digress) so it doesn’t surprise me that players came into 2013 without knowing that the rules had changed to consider the service motion and not the ball bouncing as the start of the serve and that the umpires had been encouraged to apply the rule strictly. They must not watch other matches because Bagdatis had it out with that little Greek umpire over her application of the rule in his match with Dimitrov and it’s been applied in other matches at other tournaments. Maybe less so in Indian Wells.

skeezer Says:


Great post @ 7:20. Hope the Rafanatics read it, probably not.

rafaeli Says:

What I don’t like are armchair experts who have no clue how they would recover after running around playing 30+ shots for one point in a match that could last anything from 2-5 hours.

We can all pontificate, but just like the people who fixed the time at 25 secs, we do not know what a real tennis player feels on court. Until they have the first player collapse on court with exhaustion some people will remain in their ivory tower.

Michael Says:

Colin, Secular – Treating equally showing no bias.

Margot Says:

JMDP is probably the player who annoys me the most. I’d really like to place a firecracker in a certain part of his anatomy.

Chico Says:

I’d like to see the rule applied srictly for a while. The idea that you can’t recover from a 50-60+ shot rally in 20 seconds makes a millionare professional sportsman sound like a princess. Isn’t that why you practice, to get better than the opponent at recovering from points.

Of course it changes the look of the game. A player that needs to recover starts to play shorter point tactics, which in turn can be anticipated from the opponent and so fort. I’d like to see what happens.

When we’we seen how it works we can decide if we want the dragging out of the suspence or players coping with the conditions. And I think it’s the fans who should make the last call.

rafaeli Says:

^^^Fans will never have a say.

nadalista Says:

“And I think it’s the fans who should make the last call.”

Excellent idea. When are the elections for the fans’ Representative on the ATP?


Ben Pronin Says:

Rafaeli, this isn’t the NFL, get out of town with players collapsing due to exhaustion. How pathetic do you think these guys are?

Chico, Nadalista, we’re not watching gladiator battles at the Roman Colosseum. No thumbs up or thumbs down from fans needed during match play. It’s not up to us to make the rules.

MMT, your post is awesome.

nadalista Says:

@Ben Pronin;

My bad, I thought you were one of the few posters on here with a brain. Go back to my post…..the hashtag at the bottom on my comment should give you a hint, but just to be on the safe side, I will now proceed to draw you a picture:


which means;


*can’t believe I’m doing this*

Top story: Devastated Andy Murray Won't Play The Australian Open