postheadericon Nadal’s Controversial Australian Open Default Highlights Tennis’ Injury Issues

When John McEnroe starts wondering whether Rafael Nadal was taking advantage of rules at the Australian Open, tennis very clearly has a problem. Does a player have to have an injury that has occurred during the match, wondered McEnroe during the final stages of the quarter-final match between Nadal and Marin Čilić at the Australian Open, which came to an end when the world number one retired due to injury in the 5th set.


Tennis Needs Both Players to be Able


Unlike the majority of spectator sports, the game of tennis relies on both players being able to play. There are no substitutions available, so if a player can’t continue, the match ends and the fans are left disappointed. While it sometimes possible to move the next match onto the tennis court a little early, in general a mid-match retirement is problematic.


Are Healthy Players Taking Advantage of the Rules?


In much the same way that unscrupulous players taking advantage of the Welcome Bonus’ and such that internet-based casinos initially handed out for the online pokies NZ and the rest of the world has to offer necessitated the more onerous terms and conditions attached to these nowadays, players may be taking advantage of the injury rules in tennis.


This is why the tennis powers-that-be have had to start taking steps to address the issue: the rules as they stand allow largely healthy players to take advantage. Nadal retired against Čilić, ultimately, mitigating some of the impact of the injury delay, but there are cases when injury timeouts have seriously impacted the outcome of major matches.


Allowances for Injury Not Loss of Condition


Back in the days of amateur play, which took place on grass courts by players outfitted in white, tennis relied on a strict and simple code: play had to be continuous, and, if a player was unable to serve or receive, they would be penalised, and ultimately defaulted. There were allowances made for injuries, like sprained ankles, but not for a loss of condition, like cramps.


The Line Has Been Blurred


But, as players these days increasingly battle injuries during long playing seasons, the line has become blurred, if not wiped out completely. Illness as a result from the heat, for example, is now held to be a medical condition which can be treated, rather than the general fatigue players have to find a way to deal with.


Players are permitted a single timeout of 3 minutes for each treatable medical condition, but, because the clock only begins after the trainer has made a diagnosis, the reality is that the disruption is usually a lot longer -sometimes as long as 30 minutes from end to end.


Which brings us back to McEnroe’s concerns regarding the injury timeouts taken by Nadal. The problem is, naturally, that the very treatment that is helping one player stay in the game is also delaying the match, something which generally detrimentally affects his or her opponent, and stricter rules are going to have to be put into place.

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