I first said tennis needed a “Serve Clock” back in 2008, and though within four years we would see one. Well, it took 10 but it’s finally here, and probably here to stay because… IT’S NOT DOING ANYTHING!
From what I’ve seen these past couple of weeks is that there really hasn’t been much change to pace of play that I’ve noticed. It’s interesting to see the clock wind down, but awfully rare to hear a warning or a violation and there’s been little crowd reaction.
The problem is, the clock doesn’t start until AFTER the umpire calls the score, which can take as long as 5-10 seconds. So the tour rule of 25 seconds to serve effectively becomes 30-35 seconds. Therefore…we are pretty much back to where we were with players going well over 25 seconds to serve between points.
And I have noticed on big points the umpires do take a little longer to call the score. And they are clearly delaying their call because of the clock!
So I don’t really understand the point of it if it is intended to speed up the play. That said, the tour should have some numbers to prove me wrong and to back up if in fact the pace has quickened or slowed, as some players will see they still have time on the clock and make use of it. I do like the 5-minute warm-up rule, that should pay off.
And maybe in a few years once players do get accustomed to it they can drop the time allowed from 25 to 20 seconds. That would make sense. But it’s a start and at least the guesswork of time left on the clock has been removed.
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