Hey Doc, I need a T/O
Posted by Marius_Hancu
Q: The medical timeouts have gotten totally out of whack. Players are using the current situation for gamemanship purposes.
Thus, yesterday Nadal first was "assessed" for 5 minutes in his match with Moya at TMS Montreal, then the was "treated" for another 5 minutes, breaking Moya's rhythm. Of course, when he came back, his wrist was perfectly OK, continuing to blast winners at will. And in fact the whole treatment was a discussion with the trainer, nothing was really applied. I was there.
If you can't play for 10min, you should be defaulted.
Posted by Andrew D
Q: This is a point that really needs to be explored by the ATP.
During the current USTA boys 18's Nationals the top seed took an injury time-out when trailing 3-6 4-5. He later admitted that he took the medical break as strategy not entirely due to a physical ailment -“ it gave him a chance to think about it, and gave me a chance to gather my energy.”
That attitude is being driven by the behaviour of the pros and the ATP really needs to do something about it to discourage emulation at the junior level. If they dont then the practise will become endemic.
The 'offending' player in the above instance won the match so he obviously got what he wanted. However, what tennis got was sportsmanship traded cheaply for gamesmanship.
A: I do share the concern for the fact that the expanded medical timeouts now compromise the competition. The history of this goes back 10 years when Shuzo Matsuoka suffered terrible cramps in his Grandstand match at the US Open. Instead of walking out to the middle of the court where Shuzo was immobilized and writhing in pain and telling him, "Shuzo, we can get you medical help right now BUT the match will be over", the referee chose instead to "count him out" over an agonizing three minute period. This led to outcries from fans, media and the medical community about how withholding medical treatment was not only inhumane but could be dangerous to the players' health. The following year, a new rule allowing for a much broader range of medical treatment was introduced (typical of how we sometimes fall prey to "knee-jerk" reactions).
The intent of the old rule was never to withhold necessary medical treatment. However, this treatment should not interrupt the natural flow of the match nor should it allow a player to regain a "natural loss of condition" which, for many of us, is cramping or fatigue. The Australian Open final this year between Hewitt and Safin saw each player take what some categorized as a "strategic" medical timeout. A member of the ITF Medical Commission observed this as well and suggested a review of the current rule. Even a majority of ATP players polled were in favor of placing limits on the current procedures. The resistance is coming from the medical community which seems intent on providing any medical assistance whenever a player needs it. However, in the process, we cannot forsake fairness to the OTHER player or the integrity of the competition.
ANDREWD is correct that not only does this balance need to be restored to the professional game (I'll include the women here because I believe that the gamesmanship of the medical timeout is much more rampant on their side) but also at the junior level. This is one aspect of the professional game we do not want emulated by our junior players.