Novak Djokovic falls over the net at Wimbledon.

Photo :

Wimbledon, July 9, 2023. Novak Djokovic vs. Hubert Hurkacz. 

Hubert hits a soft ball that goes over, bounces and spins back towards him. Novak instinctively swats it but loses his balance and falls on the net. He hits the shot but loses the point. 

Why? Because that’s the rule—one many believe should be amended or removed altogether. There are actually quite a few rules that merit the same treatment, but more on that later.  

According to the International Tennis Federation’s Rules of Tennis, Rule 24, paragraphs g and h, the point is lost if:  

g. The player or the racket, whether in the player’s hand or not, or anything which the player is wearing or carrying touches the net, net posts/singles sticks, cord or metal cable, strap or band, or the opponent’s court at any time while the ball is in play;  

h. The player hits the ball before it has passed the net; 

In Djokovic vs. Hurkacz, Novak contravened only one condition since Hubert’s ball did indeed pass the net. If Nole had managed to secure the shot without touching the net, the point would have gone to him. 

But in the end, the rivals just laughed and hugged it out.  

Photo : AFP

Back in 2013, Djokovic found himself in a similar situation. It was in the fifth set of his French Open semi against Rafael Nadal. 

Photo :

Cette photo remonte au printemps 2013.

Here’s Novak, caught like a fish. He dropped a critical point when he was washed away by his own momentum after hitting a smash in the open court and crashing into the net before the ball hit the ground (in this case, the stands) a second time.  

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Rafa didn’t waste any time flagging the infraction, and rule 24 decided a spectacular play by a competitor who’d gone all in. 

Photo : Panorama
Photo : AFP

When a player gets to the ball but then loses their balance and touches the net, they’re most often at a disadvantage and risk losing the point. So many rallies could end in so many more entertaining ways than an abrupt conclusion by reason of an outdated rule.  

Tennis has changed, and the players have too. It’s time to adapt. 

Photo : Getty

Now, onto the let. 

Isn’t it about time to drop the rule that a serve that grazes the net and falls into the service box calls for another serve?  

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The concept itself is a good one, but the rule has been seriously undermined by the technology meant to improve it. There are lots of instances of malfunctioning devices installed in the top edge of the net to sense the slightest vibrations.  

Some players make it clear to the chair umpire by mimicking a six-inch gap between their two hands, as if to say not even close. The most salient example happened at the 2021 AO, when Nick Kyrgios repeatedly told the chair umpire Marijana Veljovic that the system was defective. He was so insistent that she eventually adjusted its sensitivity. 

Photos : Getty

How many unnecessary replays (which just delay the match and unsettle the player who saw the ball go over the net) will it take?  

Why not adopt the rule used in the Next Gen ATP Finals? If the ball touches the net, regardless of where it ends up in the service box, play continues. That creates an exciting uncertainty for the receiver, who’ll need solid reflexes to adapt and hit the ball.  

Photo :

Or maybe there’s another option. 

Given that the server’s aim is to send the ball into the service box, every shot that hits the net should be called out even if it lands in. The onus is then on the server to choose a second, safer, serve that’s less effective.  

Read also: The Edmonton Junior Tennis Society is Inspiring Children to Love the Sport

What tennis rule would you change or abolish? Write to me and let me know.  

Fresh start for the Hopman Cup  

Source : Hopman Cup

There’s a tonne of interest in mixed teams events between nations.  

So much so that Carlos Alcaraz laced up his clay court shoes and made his way to the south of France to honour his commitment to the Hopman Cup only a few days after he dazzled the world on the Wimbledon grass.  

Yes, there’s a tonne of interest and not just in Olympic years. A number of tournaments throughout the season now attract some big names.    

The most recent one, which also happens to be the oldest, went down in Nice just last week. Held in Perth, Australia, for 30 years, the Hopman Cup went on a three-year hiatus before resurrecting on the French Riviera in 2023.  

Made up of veterans Alizé Cornet and Richard Gasquet, Team France (pictured here with Clara Tauson and Holger Rune of Denmark) got the warmest welcome, of course. 

Photo : Hopman Cup

The four other teams in action also had their fair share of headliners. Carlos Alcaraz fought for Spain, Elise Mertens and David Goffin for Belgium and Donna Vekic and Borna Coric for Croatia. 

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Only the Swiss delegation of No. 157 Céline Naef and No. 160 Leandro Riedi were out of their depth, especially considering two of their own, namely Belinda Bencic and Roger Federer, took the title at the last edition in Perth.  

Photo : Hopman Cup

That said, and given the rather light nature of the competition, Naef and Riedi did just fine. On July 21, Riedi defeated Gasquet and then joined forces with Naef to overpower the French duo in doubles.

Read also: 2023 National Bank Open Toronto – Meet the Canadian Men 

In the final, Team Switzerland lost to Vekic and Coric of Croatia at the outcome of two singles matches. 

Photo : Hopman Cup

As for the World No. 1, he may not have won the title, but he still played fantastic tennis even with little rest and the switch back to clay. Just ask David Goffin. 

If you’re wondering why these tournaments are so popular on the tours, read the November 2022 edition of this blog on the new United Cup.

Besides the really big bonuses they earn, the players enjoy being part of a team and competing without pressure.  

It’s the summer holidays! 

Like thousands of people, you’ll be on holidays in late July or early August.  

And if you’re a regular at the tennis club, this is what you and your fellow players will look like at your nearest (or farthest) beach.  

But don’t let the strange looks get you down. Be happy in the knowledge that the joy of tennis lasts a lot longer than a tan.  

Have fun! 



Twitter: @paul6rivard

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