LONDON — Rafael Nadal tugging at his shorts and doing his usual pre-serve routine. Novak Djokovic bouncing the ball more than a dozen times. Maria Sharapova facing away from the court between serves. Countless players going to the towel point after point.
These are some of the things that have people at Wimbledon talking about whether there needs to be stronger enforcement of rules that set time limits between points. One possible solution that keeps coming up: instituting a basketball-style shot clock.
Defending champion Andy Murray came out strongly in favor of the idea Monday.
“I think it’s the only way to go, to be honest, because how are you supposed to know as a player how long 20 seconds is or 25 seconds between a point?” he said after beating Kevin Anderson in straight sets to reach the quarterfinals.
Murray said a clock would eliminate any surprises.
“If it’s right there for everyone to see, then there’s no arguing from the player’s side,” he said.
Caroline Wozniacki said that she’d endorse the idea. Roger Federer feels that television viewers might be turned off — and tuning out — because of the time delays and feels shot clocks are inevitable.
Former No. 1 Wozniacki, who lost her fourth-round match 6-2, 7-5 to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, said she felt her Czech opponent was taking longer than the 20 seconds allowed between points.
“I thought she was very slow,” Wozniacki said. “But I guess the referee, she has the time on it. If she’s within the time, I guess it’s OK.”
So a time clock would be fine with her.
“I wouldn’t mind,” Wozniacki said. “You have a clock. It shows exactly how much time you take in between points.”
Zahlavova Strycova said if she was taking too much time, she should have been warned.
“The referee would tell me ‘speed up’ or ‘hurry up’ on your serve, I would maybe change it,” she said. “But I didn’t get any warning or something like that, so I was just following the rhythm I had.”
Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka said Monday after his third-round win over Denis Istomin that time rules between points needed to be enforced.
“You can see so many players taking too much time and they don’t get anything from the umpire,” Wawrinka said. “The only time they get something, then they come back to the press conference complaining about the umpire.
Last week, seven-time Wimbledon champion Federer said he thinks a clock might eventually be instituted because the 20-second rule in Grand Slams and 25-second limit in other tournaments was being abused.
“I just think it’s important that we, as players, play up to speed,” said Federer, adding that the issue has been discussed at player meetings. “And don’t exceed the time limit, because what I don’t want is that we lose viewers because we play too slow.
“What you’re going to see next is all of a sudden a shot clock,” Federer said. “We discussed that as well. We said we didn’t need to go that far. I wouldn’t be surprised if that were to happen all of a sudden. Because you only just need a couple of guys always doing it, and that’s when it happens.”
Lukas Rosol complained after his second-round loss to Nadal that the Spaniard was allowed to take too much time between points.
“I think all the players should have the same time between the points. But always the best players, they’re taking much more than the normal players, and nobody is telling them nothing. I don’t know why,” Rosol said.