Players have conversations with umpires all the time, and those exchanges often make matches all the more exciting — they show us the raw emotions of the competitors in the thick of the action, and sometimes take a comical turn that exhibits a funnier side to them.
On Thursday, Nick Kyrgios and chair umpire James Keothavong had an unusual exchange.
A foot-fault was called against Kyrgios during his win over Robin Haase and the Australian disputed the call.
“What? After I hit it? How’s that possible?” asked the No. 15 seed.
“That’s what he has to do, he can’t call it before you hit,” replied a deadpan Keothavong.
Kyrgios, along with the crowd, all chuckled at the response.
Later, Keothavong actually climbed down from his chair, and started showing Kyrgios how he can avoid foot-faulting.
“He told me at any point if your foot crosses the line, it’s a foot fault. I just got too close to the T,” explained Kyrgios later.
And here I thought on-court coaching wasn’t allowed in tennis!
During her second round match against Dominika Cibulkova, home favourite Johanna Konta had a different kind of complaint.
Cibulkova is known to be one of the fieriest competitors on tour and it seems the way she was pumping herself up was annoying Konta.
“It was actually to do with the way she plays, she’s very intense. She was slapping her thigh. It was like a clapping. I just asked the umpire if it would be the same — is it the same if someone else from externally in the crowd would clap in between first and second serves? That was more what was bothering me,” said Konta after her loss.
“The umpire had a word with her and she stopped. She doesn’t do it in a malicious way. She does it to pump herself up. It was nothing more than that.”
A MATTER OF TIME
Rafael Nadal has a complicated relationship with some chair umpires because he takes too long between points and he sometimes doesn’t like the moment umpires choose to give him time violation warnings.
On Thursday, the world No. 1 received two time violations, one before the match had even started, and one before the third set. The Spaniard has a history with the chair umpire Carlos Bernardes, who was officiating his match against Mikhail Kukushkin, and for a period, the Brazilian was not working on any of Nadal’s matches.
Nadal didn’t even realise he received that first time violation before the start of his second round on Thursday.
“Before the match I had?” he asked reporters in his press conference.
“I received two time violations? First news about that.
“I don’t know. But being honest, with the five minutes, that’s because we have five minutes and one minute. I don’t see a watch here. I don’t see that countdown. It’s more difficult for me to understand what’s going on. In Australia and Roland Garros, we have the watch here that we can manage to be under control with the watch. Here we can’t.”
The hilarious moment came when the press conference moderator, sat next to Nadal, looked to be rushing the Spaniard during a lengthy answer, ironically about time violations.
“One second,” a laughing Nadal told the moderator. “Because I feel the pressure that we go… We finished the match so I don’t need that [mimics a nudge]”
You really can’t make this stuff up!
Last year’s women’s champion and men’s runner-up, Garbine Muguruza and Marin Cilic, both crashed out of the Wimbledon second round on Thursday.
Third-seeded Muguruza was stunned by Belgium’s world No. 47 Alison van Uytvanck 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 on Court No. 2, while men’s No. 3 seed Cilic lost 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-5 to Argentina’s Guido Pella, who had never won a match at Wimbledon prior to this week.
“I think she played big today. She took a lot of risk, and it worked for her. I also think that my level today was not where I wanted it to be. That’s also why she could develop that kind of level,” said Muguruza of Van Uytvanck, who had only ever won one match at Wimbledon before this tournament.
“But, yeah, is a little bit sad because I wanted to, you know, really go out there. But I think she played great. Think she played great.”
Cilic was in control of his second round against Pella when it started on Wednesday evening, going up two sets but play was suspended by rain, with the Croatian trailing 3-4 in the third set (a break) and the momentum completely shifted when play resumed on Thursday.
“Yesterday the match started so bad for me because he was playing so good, very solid from the baseline with big serves, and I couldn’t do almost nothing,” said the 28-year-old Pella, who is into the third round at a Grand Slam for the first time in his career.
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“So the rain came, and today was very different day because I started to feel very good. Just at the beginning of the fourth set — I close the set in the third with big serves, with big two games. Then I started to feel better and better. I saw him playing like a little bit slower than the day before. So I tried to fight every ball, tried to be close in the score, and that’s it.”
Cilic, who was one of the top contenders for the title and won Queens in the build-up to Wimbledon, admits he wasn’t able to summon his best on court after the restart on Thursday.
“I was just not feeling as comfortable as yesterday with hitting. I was not as accurate. I was just missing some balls, some easy balls, giving him a chance to come back. That was playing the part. It was not just the pressure. It was me not executing on the court well,” said the world No. 5.
Watch video highlights above from a thrilling day four at Wimbledon.
Ons Jabeur came ever so close to becoming the first Arab woman in history to reach the third round at Wimbledon but squandered a match point and a 5-2 lead in the third set to fall 5-7, 6-4, 9-7 to Katerina Siniakova on Thursday.
Jabeur held match point on Siniakova’s serve, and served for the match herself, but a dramatic ending to the match saw the Czech world No. 42 ultimately get the win, on her third attempt to serve out the match.
“It was a tough one, very tough. This kind of loss is very painful,” Jabeur told Sport360 after the match.
“But she’s a good player, she was there in the important points. Unfortunately maybe I don’t have enough experience to hold enough my serve. It was the key, and maybe other stuff.
“Because I was fighting back, also breaking her serve after. The second set was also a little bit tough. I felt a little bit tired but then I came back much better at the end. I have to absorb it better this loss and then maybe something better will come after, at the end of the season.”
The 23-year-old Jabeur, whose best Grand Slam result was making the third round last year at the French Open, dropped serve seven times from eight break points faced against Siniakova.
She had momentum on her side when she went up a break in the deciding set, but couldn’t close it out.
“When you say 5-2, it was just one break up, I know it’s three games but two were on her serve. She acted differently, she wasn’t crying, she was loose, she was hitting all the balls much better,” said Jabeur.
“Maybe if she started like stressing out more I would have won the game but she started playing looser and much better. I should have won my serve, I have to really work on much, much more. I’m working on it, but these kind of matches and these kind of situations I need it much more.
“It was better at the end of the [Viktorija] Golubic match [in the first round], when I had to win my serve I did win it. I just have to learn from these mistakes.”
Jabeur next heads to Budapest, where she’ll play a $100k ITF clay tournament next week in an effort to make the cut for the US Open main draw.
On her part, Siniakova has a quick turnaround after playing singles (postponed from its initial Wednesday scheduling) and doubles on Thursday, and now has to return to the court at 11:30am on Friday for her third round against Italian Camila Giorgi.
Siniakova has already spent seven hours and 18 minutes on court so far this Wimbledon, five hours and 29 minutes of which were in singles. She beat CoCo Vandeweghe 6-7 (3), 6-3, 8-6 in the first round before a similar battle with Jabeur.
“I don’t know how [I’ve pulled those wins off] but I can say I’m a big fighter and think I can now have confidence,” said Siniakova. “I just knew that I could do it, and I was fighting every point, it’s grass and anything can happen. I knew that last match I did it so I was just ‘okay, it’s just one break, why can’t you do it?’
“I think we both played pretty well and it was a pretty close match.”
Siniakova admits she was surprised by the scheduling when she realised she was due back on court the next morning at 11:30 am against Giorgi.
“I need to be ready, I’ll try to do my best. I am a little bit surprised they put me first match so I think I will ask why. Because I was playing singles and doubles, if it was just singles okay, put me first, but I’m a little bit surprised. If schedule is out they cannot change it but anyway I would like to talk to them about why they did it because I think now we are not in rush, but I will try to do my best to be ready and show my best,” said the 22-year-old Siniakova.