The NYT reports: Another Loss for Nice Guys, but This One Wins Raves on Tim Smyczek, a qualifier from Milwaukee ranked 112th, playing third-ranked Rafael Nadal in the second round at Australian Open.
As Nadal served for the match ahead by 6-5, 30-0, in the fifth set, a fan hollered during the toss of his first serve, disrupting his motion. The serve sailed long.
As the crowd began to boo, Smyczek caught the attention of the chair umpire and held up two fingers, indicating that Nadal should be able to have both of his serving opportunities. Once the umpire announced that it would again be a first serve, Nadal gave Smyczek a thumbs-up sign and a small wave, and several members of Nadal’s team stood to applaud the gesture.
Despite clinging to ideals of gentlemanliness and fair play, tennis has had its low moments in sportsmanship. Justine Henin’s declining to give Serena Williams a second chance at a first serve after holding up her hand midway through Williams’s service motion at a 2003 French Open semifinal serves as a counterpoint to Smyczek’s gesture. Medical timeouts, bathroom breaks and illegal coaching from the stands are common forms of gamesmanship.
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If was a day match in the 1992 at the Louis Armstrong Stadium. The former champ Ivan Lendl got a questionable line call in his favor. Back then there was no instant replay. Line umpires and chair umpire wielded the absolute power over each shot. The player could only confer with the chair umpire which Lendl’s opponent did but the chair empire upheld the call. However the next shot another line umpire called a close shot in the opponent’s favor.
We cheered. It’s vigilante justice I suppose.
“You don’t have to give him back so quickly.”
We laughed, then despised him. Tennis is really a gentlemanly sport. You compete fair and square. If you think the call is wrong, you correct it. Which, Thomas Muster did during a tournament. Muster felt the call in his favor was wrong and gave it back to his opponent Michael Chang. However a few games down the road, when another close call occurred but Chang did not reciprocate, Muster got mad. He eventually beat Chang, feeling vindicated. Not many people like Lendl and Muster. I admired Muster for his conduct. Also his come back to win the same tournament in Miami in 1997 where he was hit by drunk driver (1989). A side note, Muster had just beaten Noah after losing the first two set early in the day in the semi final and was scheduled to play Lendl for the final.