The inconsistency of umpires with regard to slow play was highlighted again at the French Open. This time by Andy Murray who was incensed at receiving at suddenly being denied a first serve because he had already received two warnings for tardy play early in the second set!
How the players are supposed to know that in their head when we're playing at one speed throughout the whole year, and then you show up at the slams, you're expected to speed up by 5 seconds. It's a pretty long time. Andy Murray
In some ways he should be thanking Carlos Ramos for the incident sparked him off to turn around what was a poor performance by his standards as Kei Nishikori dominated play during the first set.
From that moment in the third game, Murray was galvanised as he ran away with the second set to eventually book his allotted place in the semi-finals 2-6 6-1 6-6(0) 6-1.
Following his victory he was quick to express his dismay at the ‘slow play’ rule.
“It’s possible that I’m playing too slow. I don’t know, because we don’t have the clock on the court so it’s impossible for us to tell,” said Murray.
“We can’t tell, as players, how long we are taking. You’re allowed 20 seconds here. The rest of the year it’s 25 seconds.
“How the players are supposed to know that in their head when we’re playing at one speed throughout the whole year, and then you show up at the slams, you’re expected to speed up by 5 seconds. It’s a pretty long time.”
It was very much in line with what Rafa Nadal complained about a few days ago when he accused Ramos of treating him like a ‘machine’ and also suggested a clock be made available to players on court.
“I think if someone is intentionally slowing a match down they should be punished for that, but it’s a rule that is going to be challenging regardless of whether there is a clock on the court or not,” added Murray. “It’s difficult because the consistency is not there.”
The match itself was not his best by far but he did enough to ensure e made the semis and admitted that the incident had played a part. “Obviously for a couple of points after that I was fired up, because I was frustrated at that moment.
“It felt to me like it was a strange decision. I have never seen anyone get a warning after they have missed the ball toss.
“I don’t know how much impact that had, it’s not like I played a great point the next point. Kei missed a second-serve return, and then I think a good serve on the next point.
“But that was a critical period of the match because he started way better than me. From there I started to do a bit better.”
Reflecting on his performance in the blustery conditions, he added: “It wasn’t the best match. It was tricky out there. Physically, I feel great. Today’s match wasn’t particularly long, and there weren’t many long rallies. When we play normally, we have a lot of long points.
“Personally I think it was down to the conditions. It was very windy down on the court. There wasn’t much rhythm out there. Obviously if someone had offered me a semi-final spot before the tournament, I would have signed up for that because I was not playing well at all. And practice also was not good. It’s been really good so far. I want to keep going.”
His next opponent is Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 champion, whom he beat at the same stage last year but the Swiss seems to be on a good run dispatching Marin Cilic 6-3 6-3 6-1 in just 100-minutes.
But the biggest surprise is the removal of the defending champion, Novak Djokovic by Dominic Thiem.
The match itself was always expected to be tight but apart from a close first set which saw the young Austrian recover to snatch it on a tiebreak, the Serbian didn’t looked distracted. Had Agassi’s departure affected him that badly?
Thiem won 7-6(5) 6-3 6-0 and that bagel is quite extraordinary for a player with a reputation of never giving up.
Something is surely amiss especially as it seems Djokovic is now considering taking time off and even possibly skipping Wimbledon!
“I was planning to play only Wimbledon. I might play a lead up event, I might not. I’m not really sure. Obviously its not an easy decision to make but I will see how I feel after Rolnad Garros.”
He added: “I’m not close to my best, I know that.”
The final semifinal slot will be filled by Rafa Nadal who who was hardly tested in his quarter-final clash with countryman who retired with an abdominal injury while trailing 6-2 2-0.