A med & grad student who used to work the line in LA, NYC, SF and Napa talking about the science of cooking and cooking with science. Harold McGee's On Food And Cooking - The Science and Lore of the Kitchen never satisfied my kitchen curiosity and more than one Chef grew exasperated with my asking "Why?" I'll try to stay on topic, but you may see a kvetch or two about the school & hospital.
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The Monday broadcast of the US Open Men's final is on in the background. Rafael Nadal, the undisputed King of Clay, squaring off against Novak Djokovic, the man who has a 5-0 record against Nadal in 2011. This morning, Serena Williams' tirade against the chair umpire during yesterday's Women's Final made sports news everywhere. If you hadn't seen or heard the exchange, here it is:
Now, Serena berating an official? Kind of crass, but here's where I will excuse her. Yes. She did yell and interrupt the point. But, Stosur had no real action on the ball. Her racket could not make a controlled return. At all. Yes, the rules state that interfering with your opponent's fair play is an automatic point against the person who returned the ball. But, here's my problem...
The rules are horribly, horribly enforced in tennis. Don't believe me? Take a stopwatch to a Nadal or Djokovic match. From the time the last point ends to the start of the next point, the player has 25 seconds OR until the server is at the baseline and ready to return. How many seconds do you count between points? Especially when Nadal or Djokovic (or Ferrer or Murray or Verdasco...) are down? 30 seconds? 45 seconds? You bet. Heck, in Ferrer's second round match against James Blake he was called out on it. Once. In how many tournaments? And Ferrer complained loudly, in Spanish, to the chair umpire. How many times during a Roddick or Isner or Federer match will you see those three men at the baseline, on their serve, ready to serve and waiting for the returner. This deliberate slowing of the match is called "icing." And in the youth league I coach it is a serious offense. Point penalties in pro tennis for icing? Haven't seen one levied.
And that's not the only blatant rule violation. Throughout this men's match you see both players blatantly looking at their box, and their coach. Guess what else is a rule in tennis, well on the men's side - No courtside coaching!* These aren't sneaked furtive glances. This is hands on hips staring at the box, while they receive hand gestures. The fans see this. The officials see this. Sometimes the people at home don't see this, because the cameras will suddenly switch to celebrities in the crowd. Look! Justin Timberlake! But you'll hear the commentators call the players out on this. Where are the warnings and point penalties for coaching? Yeah. I'm waiting on that one, too.
And heck, let's return to Serena's shrieked, "Yeah!" Is that "Yeah!" any more disruptive than the shrill, trilling shrieking of Victoria Azarenka? We already know that "grunting" can give a slight edge to the grunter in a professional tennis match, but have you heard Vika's particular brand of grunting?
Yeah. It doesn't sound like a grunt. It sounds like some obscene cross between a birdcall and a lady about to make her O-face. That, right there? Way more distracting than a screamed, "Yeah!" If someone I was playing in a mixed match made a sound like that during play, I'd really stop and wonder what the hell was going on. So where's the point penalty for each time Vika makes this noise? Or Sharapova grunts? Or Radwanska? Either Williams sister? Nowhere. That's where.
The way I saw the point play out, Stosur had no action on the ball. She had no legitimate claim to the point. If she did, then the chair umpire should have given the point to Stosur. What Eva Asderaki, the chair umpire, should have done was given a warning to Serena. At most, the point should have been played as a let. Instead of judiciously applying the rules, with the same lackadaisical hand that they are generally applied, this chair umpire focused on one moment, one rule and was rightly taken to task for it. But rather than anyone pillory the umpire for a bad call, everyone from announcers to casual fans have bashed Serena's misconduct. In football, when a referee made bad calls like this, we used to run plays near them. With the obvious intent of planting the ref face first in the dirt while executing the play. All Serena did was take part in the same tennis version of "planting the ref" in tennis that has been a key part of the persona of Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, and even Rafael Nadal. Yes. Rafa has berated and argued with the chair umpire before. Or have people forgotten his 2010 Wimbledon appearance? But Nadal is a good guy, right? He's just all sorts of aw shucks quiet dignity. We can forgive him for that.
If you want to take Serena to task for being crass, that's fine. I'll admit her tirade was in poor taste. Especially given that players have been stabbed on court in Women's Tennis. But, the chair umpire and tournament officials are not without blame. And they, too, should be held accountable for bad calls. Especially those that come at bad times (2009 SF Clijsters v Williams anyone?).
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I see your point but just because none of the other umpires follow the rules doesn't mean that this one should be as bad as the rest. It's not the umpire's fault that she takes her position seriously and others do not.
A warning would have been better but really, there was no reason for Serena to make a celebratory yell before the play was finished. It was kinda cocky on Serena's behalf to do so. It's almost unsportsmanlike conduct.
The ump didn't make a bad call. She made the right one.
I had to do a bit of digging, and going through all my schedules of play where I'd noted who Chair Umpires are at matches. Eva Asderaki has, to date, ignored 7 blatant foot faults, over 30 time violations, the noise rule and has an overrule percentage less than 50%. The latter being when she has overruled a lines judge's call, with Hawkeye available, and proven wrong by the replay.
And what made it worse was that this was a championship match. The entire tournament had loose calls from all of the Chair Umpires. Suddenly we're going to call a penalty? And the penalty is going to award a point to a player with no legitimate claim to the point? I just can't buy it as the right call.
I'll have to take your word for it, regarding Eva's previous umpire calls and her inconsistency in adhering to the rules. I don't know why it is tolerated at all by the players, coaches, or other umpires. The players are just as responsible for the inconsistency in applying the rules because they like it when their opponent is unfairly screwed over. You can't complain when a call goes against you if you don't demand that the rules be followed equally for everyone.
The players are basically making it ok to allow the umps to call it however they want since they are not taking the lead to bring integrity back to the game.
Don't you agree?