What’s The Right Call?

Mohamed Layani
During the Rogers cup tournament in Canada this past week, there was an interesting call (non-call) during the quarterfinal match between Canadian Milos Raonic and Juan Martin del Potro. But was it the right call?

Raonic won the first set, but was down the service break (del Potro serving 4-3) in the second set when the call took place. He came to the net and hit a ground stroke but his foot touched the net as he moved forward after the stroke.

Before the next point began, they showed the replay on the big screen in the stadium and it showed that he touched the net before the ball bounced a second time; therefore he should have lost the point. But the referee Mohamed Lahyani (perhaps the best referee in the business) did not see it and did not call it.

On the changeover, he said to an upset del Potro, “I followed the ball and then I see this [Roanic touching the net],” Layhani said. “I missed it. I have to see two things. I have to follow where the ball bounced. … I have to see both things. It’s very tough. … It’s a human mistake. At least I’m honest.”

In the post-match interview, when Raonic was asked about it, he responded, “I guess I was lucky the referee didn’t see it.”

After that wrong call, all the energy went out of the injured del Potro (he had a bad back as well; and perhaps would look forward to an extra couple of days off) and he did not win another point in the match.

Here are the questions to answer…

• Should/could the referee have reversed his call based on what he saw on replay right after the point was played?

• Since tennis is a game of honor, should Raonic have called it upon himself (which he would have been expected to do in a non-officiated match)?

• Should they have instant replay in tennis?

What do you think?

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4 thoughts on “What’s The Right Call?

  1. I think Raonic should have called it on himself like Ken Flach should have called it on himself when the ball hit his hair in the doubles match long ago. I don’t think the umpire should have changed the call after watching the replay because that isn’t an official replay. When they used a net judge instead of a machine, it would have been their responsibility to call it as well as lets and double bounces. I think tennis should use replay for everything; isn’t the idea to get the call correct?

    Steve … I agree with all your points! George

  2. George–as to what Layani should do, that is covered by the rule book (and if he sees an unofficial replay, to me that is akin to a jury being instructed to forget something it just saw/heard; I.e.–officially, he didn’t see it). The NYT has a good article on the Raonic side of the argument; it is not cut and dried. To that article I would ask two things: 1-is it possible Raonic didn’t know the exact timing of his touch?, and, what would we think about any thoughts he might have about his opponent in a similar situation? How is this different from ‘knowing’ a ball is out and not calling it/giving the point to your opponent? Personally, I don’t play at a professional level or against people I dislike enough not to make the call. But at a professional level, governed by umpires who themselves make mistakes, I don’t feel I want to judge Raonic. Especially, I think labeling his action as ‘cheating’ is way too harshly pejorative. That’s my two bits.

    Kevin – thanks for the good comments. Regardless of knowing the timing of his touching the net, i feel Raonic had the obligation to at least announce the touch (not that it would have made a difference). i once had a dinner argument with a tournament player who felt, in an officiated match, he had NO obligation to correct a call he knew was wrong. i disagree violently — and did at that time (to the discomfort of my wife). george

  3. At this point in my life, I know what is fair and what is not:). It is not fair to NOT correct a call that the official called incorrectly. Even in an officiated match, a call that I am sure was in but that an official called out, I would correct to give the point to my opponent. Double bounces, touching the net, should be called by the person making the infraction, regardless of what the official says. The fact of saying I was lucky the official didn’t see it, speaks very poorly of the player. How much more respected would that player be if he insisted on giving the point to his opponent.
    The best call I ever made was in a Columbus Cup match in DC playing against a Brazilian player that Donald Dell told me ahead of time that I would win but would have a good match. Of course I lost. But we had a mild argument:), when he hit a passing shot down the forehand line. I said I thought it hit part of the line and he said he was pretty sure it was out. We argued back and forth and I finally said the ball was on my side of the court and it’s my call and I’m calling it good. His point. After that I found out who he was and he invited me to his beach house and took me for a ride in his helicopter! Best call I ever made:).

    Fred – “Good deeds have their just rewards”! And vice versa?? Good story. tks, george

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