Is Nadal Injury Time-out Just a Knee-UP?

I didn’t see it, but apparently Rafa called an injury timeout up 2-1 in the fourth set, but down 2 sets to one to Phillip Petzschner. The German had been playing a brilliant match against Nadal, chipping a backhand slice and charging the net, serving big, showing why he once won an indoor hardcourt title. But when Nadal called the five-minute timeout, Petzschner either lost his nerve or his game or both.

Here’s what he said: “I’m just pissed off and sad … Maybe it was just a clever way to take a timeout there.” But then the German softened, saying, “I don’t say that he just did [the injury time-out] to break my rhythm.”

Firstly, injury timeouts should not be allowed in tennis professional matches. They’re absurd, an insult to the game. Can a boxer hold up his hand at the end of a round and say his knee hurts him and take an extra five minutes? Can a miler after the second lap, halt the race to take an injury TO? Of course not, then why should Nadal be able to?

The body and its health is an integral part of the battle. How about if Petzschner called a TO because he said he needed a shrink to come out to check his fragile mind. Would that be allowed, too?

Nadal has been playing these games for a long time now. His knee is becoming like Ilie Nastase’s temperament. What he did is within the rules of the game, but it’s not how a champion conducts himself. I think Soderling has just won a lot of support in the next Nadal-Swede showdown.


  • Scoop Malinowski · June 27, 2010 at 1:56 am

    It seemed like another faked knee injury by Rafa, as he has done several times in the past – call the medical timeout while he is losing, pretend like his knee or leg hurts, then resume player in about five minutes and then he runs as hard and fast as if there is no injury at all. It completely turned the tide of the match today, Petschie lost his rhythm and Nadal jumped all over him. The match became one sided, you just knew Petzchie wouldn’t regain his game. Very clever play by Rafa,, the timeout was the turning point. Like my boxing friend Tomasz Adamek said last week in an interview, “The smartest boxer is the champion.”

  • Dan Markowitz · June 27, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Nadal also got a warning from the ump about being coached by Uncle Tony.I didn’t see what precipitated the warning, but Nadal acted with umbrage over the call. He does not like to be called out on the way he manages a match. Yesterday, during the breaker, Nadal took two long sips of water on the changeover, where you are supposed to pass right through to the other side, and then looked at balls for another 10 seconds, and then I counted, bounced the ball with his racquet and hand, 18 times before serving. Nadal has become the new Djokovic.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 27, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Who knows, maybe the butt pick, the fingering of the hair behind each ear, the towel to face after almost every point, are all predetermined Djokovic-esque ball bounce tactics of stalling and controlling the tempo. These are the little things that make the difference. It’s all in the details. One thing is for sure, if Nadal and Soderling meet in the QF, we all know Mr. Soderling is not going to stand back idly and let Rafa boy play these games without some sort of retaliation.

  • vinko · June 27, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    In boxing they spit out the mouthpiece when they want to stop a pummeling. In football the QB spikes the ball to stop play. In baseball the manager walks out to the mound and stays there to get his reliever extram time. I don’t see Nadal doing anything out of line. Didn’t Phil Petzschner also call a time out? His problem was that he couldn’t sustain his outstanding play over five sets. That’s the difference between a top ten player and a top hundred player.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 27, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    I didn’t know of Petzschner calling for a TO, but the other examples you’re given are stalling techniques within the playing of the game. In no other sport that I know of is an athlete allowed to sit on his chair while a trainer administers to him for five minutes. What is this a chiropractic office? It shouldn’t be allowed. Tennis relies on pacing and playing on, it’s not baseball or even football where you can call for substitutions.

  • Richard Pagliaro · June 27, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    I think they have to crack down on Nadal – and anyone – routinely exceeded the time limit between points. And people say “Well it’s a major, it’s 3 out of 5 cut him some slack…”
    Hey, I watched the entire Isner-Mahut match and these guys played within the time limit for virtually the entire match. If they can do that for 11 hours, 5 minutes then everyone should have to do it.
    I like Nadal too and people point to the NBA and say the stars (Jordan and Bird) get the benefit of the doubt or baseball where a star player can get the benefit of the doubt on a border line pitch. But this is not a judgement call. The chair umpire has a stop watch, it’s clear cut, cut and dried: either you play within the time limit or you don’t.
    You can’t have double standards. I like the Brad Gilbert idea of a shot clock on court. That way no one can complain, no one can say the umpire selectively unforced a rule that is rarely enforced. You go over because you went to the towel or bounced the ball 35 times then you pay the price. It’s that simple.
    It’s so annoying I’m almost getting the point where I want them to disallow the towel on court. I realize the game is much more physical now than ever but go back to past Wimbledons and you did not see McEnroe, Borg, Connors those guys going to the towel. The Aussies would sometimes have a mini towel stuck in the shorts so they coudl quickly wipe their hands and not miss any time. In the old days they did not even have chairs for the players at Wimbledon, on changeovers they would get a drink while standing and switch sides. Enough with the BS – it can kill the pacing of the game and it hurts tennis as a TV sport. Too much downtime, too much manicuring and primping and toweling off.
    Get on with the match already. One reason I always liked Clijsters she gets the ball and plays. No excessive bouncing, no towel, no affectation of turning the back to the court or pushing the hair behind the ear. It’s “give me the ball and let’s get it going.” And there’s too little of that today.
    Toss in the towel on the towel and play tennis. Scoop is right: its all in the details sometimes.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 28, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Nadal has done this time and again. It’s a tactic he uses to win. Petszchner was playing THE MATCH OF HIS LIFE. and the timeout clearly affected his play adversely. It was a shame to see that. PP is a mentally fragile player – RP can tell you the story about his five setter vs. JCFerrero at 2009 US Open and how he totally fell apart in the fifth because of one comment by a fan – and sadly he fell apart after Nadal’s timeout. It’s just not right to see a top player use such tactics to beat a lower ranked player. But for sure, it’s a part of tennis and always has been a part of tennis. Just another reason why it is so hard for lesser ranked players to beat the top players.

  • vinko · June 28, 2010 at 1:14 am

    In baseball the batter leaves the batter’s box between pitches and slows the game down dramatically. No umpire would dare tell a big star to get his butt back in there. The star would remind the ump of who sells the tickets and it isn’t the umpire. Baseball has gotten to the point where it is impossible to watch a whole game. They have endless commercial breaks between half innings and the batters are in and out of the box and on top of that they have pitcher changes repeatedly which means more commercials and more warm ups.

  • Richard Pagliaro · June 28, 2010 at 10:57 am

    I immediately thought of that PP vs. JC Ferrero match at the Open. You’re right: one comment from a fan (it was on the smaller outer court) and the guy completely unraveled and he had a 2-set lead in that match.

  • Tom Michael · July 3, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Hi Scoop, this is tommyboy from the defunct tennisweek website. I just found this site after looking up Petzschner on Wikipedia, and found a link to this site. I just am happy for Petzschner and Melzer for winning Wimbledon doubles. They are both talented players, and are worthy of winning a major title in some discipline. I hope xiowa followed the result, and am sure she is happy for that nuthead Melzer.

    I felt for Petzschner for his loss to Nadal, but as a Nadal and tennis fan, am happy because the tournament is better off with Nadal in the final. Nadal has some quadriceps tendinitis that he plans to rest and rehab after Wimbledon is over. He is presently wearing some anti-inflammatory patch, which may help him play a decent final on Sunday. Hopefully we will see a good final.

  • Samir · July 8, 2010 at 6:53 am

    “the tournament is better off with Nadal in the final”

    I do not believe that any tournament is better off for it’s champion having a reputation of using unsportsmanlike tactics and gamesmanship, and abusing rules meant to protect players who suffer an actual injury during a match, (as opposed to pre-existing problems brought on by playing style and conditioning). This only further enculturates this behavior as normal and acceptable, and worthy of a champion. Real champions don’t rely on these tactics, especially the egregious and blatant on-court coaching, with any kind of frequency, as does Nadal.

    With anyone winning championships in this manner, they only give this perversion of the game currency. Do we want a future of tennis players who believe that it is becoming of an athlete to win by bringing down your opponent’s level of play instead of raising your own when you’re losing? Shouldn’t we expect them to shift gears and figure it out, using the timing of tennis strokes rather than breaks between points and frivolous MTOs to change the course of a match. And without asking the coach to tell them what to do. It takes no special intelligence or critical thought or athletic skill to use these tactics. It merely takes gumption and a disregard for fair play.

    While we’re at it, why don’t we just stop marathons when the chosen media darling falls behind, so that competitor can catch up while everyone else has to wait, because it’s better for the sport if we just let the favorite win. Hell, next time Nadal is losing a match he can just ask “Hey can we just stop for a minute, I’m really tired and it’ll be easier for me to beat you this way. I know you’re on a roll, but I can’t keep up so let’s break.”

    Gee, it’s no wonder Nadal has never even been nominated for the Sportsmanship Award, which fellow athletes vote on. Federer won it during his most dominant years; even though the other players received routine drubbings from Federer, they respected him as an honorable, fair competitor. Nadal has never known this kind of sustained dominance, yet has had to resort to unsportsmanlike behavior to get where he is. That’s what will truly separate them in the history books. That and the larger number of GS titles Federer will still have.



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