Tennis: New cramping rule at Australian Open
By DENNIS PASSA
AP Sports Writer
MELBOURNE, Australia — At last year’s U.S. Open, Nicolas Almagro took a medical time out before serving for the match because of cramping in his legs in a second-round match.
He returned to hold his serve and beat American Robby Ginepri in five sets.
Under the same set of circumstances this year at the Australian Open, that scenario could not occur — taking a medical time-out solely for cramping will not be allowed under new rules instituted on Jan. 1 by the International Tennis Federation and the men’s and women’s tours.
The ATP says the new rule “strikes a compromise between the rule that has just been replaced and the old rule that didn’t allow treatment of any kind.”
Once the physiotherapist or tournament doctor have determined that a player is suffering from muscle cramping, treatment is allowed during two full changeovers or set breaks, not necessarily two in a row. But a player can’t receive a medical time out, which is three minutes, solely for muscle cramping.
A player who stops play claiming to have another ailment, but is determined by the chair umpire to have cramping, will be ordered to resume play immediately. If he or she can’t continue, they’d have to forfeit points to get them to the end of a game or set break to receive limited treatment.
If muscle cramping is caused by a spasm related to an injury, the new rule won’t be invoked.
Heat illness, which is always a threat at the Australian Open, also is not covered by the cramping rule because its symptoms — dizziness, nausea and elevated temperatures — are far different from those of cramping.
A SHADE OF DIFFERENCE: The men’s and women’s singles winners at this year’s Australian Open will each receive more than $2 million.
That’s a far cry from what Margaret Court received when she won the first of her 11 Australian singles titles in 1960 — before the Open Era and nine years before prize money.
Court, who leads the list of female Grand Slam singles winners with 24 titles, was given an umbrella, which didn’t impress her very much.
“Rod Laver, the men’s champion, got a beautiful silver tea service, and I thought, ’That’s wrong — why do they get a beautiful silver tea service and I get a silly umbrella?”’ Court told the Sunday Age newspaper in Melbourne. “I’ve never forgotten that. And I think the next year I got a cosmetics case and that was even worse.”
CONSISTENT FEDERER: Roger Federer begins his quest for a 16th Grand Slam singles title when he plays his first-round match Tuesday at the Australian Open against Russia’s Igor Andreev.
Federer is already the all-time leader in men’s tennis with 15 singles majors, having overtaken Pete Sampras’ mark of 14 at last year’s Wimbledon.
ATP figures show Federer accomplished that feat in a span of 26 Grand Slams played since winning his first title at Wimbledon in 2003. In the past 18 Grand Slam tournaments — since Wimbledon in 2005 — Federer has reached the final 17 times with the only exception at the Australian Open in 2008 when he lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Novak Djokovic.
Federer is 11-5 in finals during the stretch. Overall he is 15-6 in Grand Slam finals with five losses to Rafael Nadal and the other, at the last U.S. Open, to Juan Martin del Potro.