July 03, 2011
Between Novak Djokovic's endless ball bounces and Rafael Nadal's progression through his various tics, waiting in between points at Sunday's Wimbledon final was an exercise in patience. But just how much time does each player waste take in between points and who's the bigger culprit?
To find out, Busted Racquet timed how long it took each player to serve during the first set of the final. Every serve, with the exception of the first of each game (the starting point of which was hard to quantify), was timed. The stopwatch began when players turned their attention away from the previous point to begin preparations for the new one. Our surprising findings are below:
(Big points were determined to be break points, 15-30 and 30-30 points on service games.)
Nadal has the reputation of taking forever in between points but it was Djokovic who took longer to serve in the first set. The Serb took consistently longer on all points, particularly when he had lost the post before. Rafa had the longest wait time between any one point (43 seconds before a set point for Djokovic) but hurried before pressure-free serves.
Now, one set in one match does not a trend make, particularly when it was a drama-free opening set to a match. It's still interesting that Nadal, who gets called for time violations and has earned the ire of opposing players for his slow play for years, went faster than his Wimbledon finals counterpart.
Though this is far from as big a problem as grunting, the delay in between points is bothersome to fans and opponents. It could easily be stopped by a vigilant chair umpire with a stopwatch but, much like pitchers and batters taking their time in baseball, it's bound to become a "part of the game" that officials are reluctant to tinker with. Our best hope is that Djokovic strains his wrist muscle from excessive ball bouncing and realizes the err of his ways.