Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Learning On The Job

Kader Nouni's controversial call against Agnieszka Radwanska yesterday may have been bad, but at least we can all learn from it.

Yesterday's relatively slow tennis news day did provide one very interesting nugget of news that is still being debated as I write.

If you take a moment to look at the video above, or have already seen it, you know what I'm talking about. To most it seems a no-brainer. If there is an overrule on a "playable" ball, then the default scenario should be to play a let. Nouni himself admits that this would have been the result of the overrule if Radwanska hadn't decided to take a seemingly innocent shot at winning the point through a challenge.

Here's where the crap hit the fan: Nouni, either having no recollection of an in-place policy on such calls or having his own independent views on such matters, elected to give the point to Radwanska's opponent Lucie Safarova when Aga's challenge of the call was unsuccessful.

This is where Radwanska went ballistic. Well, ballistic might be the wrong word, but to say she was merely sticking up for herself would be an understatement (kudos to her by the way).

Anyhow, I've read various opinions on the subject, and was surprised to see that there was a significant group who felt that Nouni made the right call -- Really?. I'll not argue that Nouni is very cool, and that I generally like him very much in the chair. But in this case, I'm of the opinion that his call was horribly wrong. The worst possible thing that should have happened to Radwanska -- or anybody in a similar situation -- is that a let be played.

But, even worse than Nouni imposing his judgment on a call that should have been made according to a precedent that SHOULD HAVE already been set (see above video, from the 2008 Australian Open), was the fact that Nouni made the judgment call at all.


If it wasn't learned in 2008, when Ana Ivanovic got the exact opposite ruling (they played a let) from Alison Lang in the semifinals of a major, then the ITF sure as heck better learn it now and take the time to implement the scenario into its training manuals.

I don't think it's too much to ask that players get the same call every time when they encounter the same situations that they've seen in the past.

It might have been okay if Nouni took the time to explain to Radwanska that she would lose the point if her challenge was wrong BEFORE SHE CHALLENGED, because at least Radwanska would have known that she was taking a risk.

The way it went down, Radwanska had no idea that she was in danger of losing the point, and I think, at the very least, Nouni should have warned her of the possible ramifications of a challenge before he shocked her with his verdict.

So, yeah, a lot went wrong here, but the good news is that Radwanska's protestations, and the WTA's apology afterwards, has set the wheels in motion for a necessary period of enlightenment for ITF officials who are sure to see the same exact call again in the future.

Thanks to @footfault_ for pointing me to the Alison Lang video from 2008!


  1. I agree, it should not be a judgment call.

  2. This whole situation was rediculous. There should have been a group decision made, or at the very least, they should have allowed the players to re-play the point. Yes, human error in line calling has been a part of tennis for decades, but this was clearly handled the wrong way. Goes to show that the challenge system is a double-edged sword.

    A learning experience for sure.


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