Question: Is it better to simply threaten someone, or does it became a greater offense when you lay your hands upon them?
Answer: Both are wrong. It isn’t okay to do either.
If David Ferrer doesn’t receive some kind of fine from tennis’ governing bodies, we’ve got a problem!
For those who didn’t see it, David went to retrieve a towel from a ballkid. After wiping his face, he thought he could put the towel down on the chair behind the center line official. He seemed to believe that the official was in his way, so he pushed him to the side in order to lay the towel down on the chair. The push was accompanied by a look of exasperation.
The problem with David’s actions was that the official was in the correct position on court, and David had no cause (or right) to touch him, let alone push him. He was frustrated by his level of play against his opponent, and let that spill over onto a court official. He’s not a junior. He’s a veteran professional and knows better than to lay hands on an official.
Afterward, David said it was “but nothing”. That’s not true. It WAS something. And if the Grand Slam committee doesn’t address this, the stage will be set for a) further hands on moments with on-court officials and, b) legitimate charges of a double standard in terms of player discipline. For an obvious example of this, one only needs to consider the case(s) of Serena Williams.
Serena’s been fined twice for threat-laced verbal tirades at the US Open. The first, and probably most infamous, came during a semifinal match against Kim Clijsters in 2009 after Serena was called for a foot fault. In what can only be described as a moment of temporary insanity, Serena unleashed a scary verbal tirade that stunned everyone with its pointed ferocity.
In the post-match aftermath, Serena was fined a record $82,500 and given a 2-yr probationary period that threatened suspension if she committed another “major offense” at any Grand Slam. Unfortunately, she would erupt again in 2011.
The second incident occurred when Serena lost a point after hitting a shot then shouting “Come on” while the ball was still in play. The chair umpire correctly ruled the shout to be an intentional hindrance and awarded the point to Stosur. That’s when the fireworks began.
An incredulous Serena then went on (yet another) verbal tirade towards the chair that included statements like, “You’re totally out of control, you’re a hater, and you’re unattractive inside” and “I promise you, don’t look at me, ’cause I am not the one”.
Luckily, this outburst was deemed to be not a “major offense”, so Serena only received a fine of $2000.
In each of these incidents, Serena’s behavior was less than stellar, but she never laid a hand on either official. Sure, she told Shino Tsurubuchi that she would “take this f***in tennis ball and shove it down your throat”, but to my knowledge, Ms. Tsurubuchi has never required surgery to remove a foreign object from her throat.
Admittedly, Ferrer’s actions weren’t as egregious as David Nalbandian’s kick that caused a bleeding injury to an on-court official at the pre-Wimbledon Queens Club event. Her first tirade aside, Serena received a $2k fine for a verbal outburst at an official with no physical contact. At a minimum, this type of fine is clearly warranted for someone who makes actual contact.
So again I ask, is it better to simply threaten someone, or does it became a greater offense when you lay your hands upon them? If you fine for the lesser (non-physical) offense, you need to fine for both. Let’s hope the committee does the right thing.