• Time crackdown won't bite hard at Australian Open

    1/15/13 1:01 AM | Johan Lindahl
    Time crackdown won't bite hard at Australian Open Time might be on the side of players as the Australian Open begins, with umpires apparently prepared to overlook minor infractions in the new 2013 time-wasting crackdown.

    With the tour's 25-second rule now in the spotlight, players are jittery, with slow play and toweling down eating up precious seconds. Warnings and occasional point penalties have characterized the season-opening events in Australia so far.

    But the major with it's five-set men's matches and generally heightened profile will likely not be quite so bad, even if the Grand Slam rules limit times between points to a mere 20 seconds.

    Australian Open tournament referee Wayne McEwen has told local media that chair umpires have been advised to play fair with competitors, especially after long, exhausting points.

    "We don't want players out there being penalized after playing a fantastic point, but then again we don't want players deliberately taking too long and that's what we really look at," said the official. "We focus on that and tell them to use good common sense, good judgment.

    "Players sometimes need a little time to recover, especially in the heat of the day, or in a long match. Last year's final (won by Novak Djokovic over Rafael Nadal in nearly six hours) was a classic match, the points were lasting incredibly long.

    "In a case like that, you don't want to be killing it for everyone."

    The hot topic was to have come up at the weekend ATP player meeting, but those who attended say there was no room on the agenda to discuss the issue.

    Player reactions to the rule in generally are mixed, with Sydney finalist and ATP Player Council member Kevin Anderson in favor. "I'm a huge fan of the rule. I feel like I'm playing quicker and I'm still adjusting to it, but I think the rule's just for tennis in general.

    "I was part of the talks when we decided to put that through last year. We actually went through a few options. We talked about having a sort of clock on the court, and we thought that wasn't the best option."

    Andy Murray has his doubts. "I'm for them being more strict with the time, but I think they maybe should have increased the time allowed first, because 25 seconds goes by pretty quick," said the Scot.

    "We were told the reason for them changing the rule is because of the Aussie Open final last year, between Novak and Rafa, which I think everyone agrees was a classic match."

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Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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