Ten­nis Down Un­der

Catch­ing up on um­pire clashes, Osaka, Mur­ray

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - San­dra Har­witt

MEL­BOURNE, Aus­tralia – Ten­nis fans might be anx­iously await­ing the next in­stall­ment of a Ser­ena Wil­liams match um­pired by Car­los Ramos, but rest as­sured there’s lit­tle chance that sce­nario will hap­pen in this Aus­tralian Open.

To re­fresh mem­o­ries, Wil­liams and Ramos had a num­ber of se­ri­ous al­ter­ca­tions dur­ing the US Open fi­nal in Septem­ber, a match that even­tu­ally put Naomi Osaka on the map as a Grand Slam tour­na­ment cham­pion.

While there’s no of­fi­cial pol­icy stip­u­lat­ing Ramos couldn’t be as­signed to a Wil­liams match here, there’s prece­dent that a player and um­pire who re­cently shared a par­tic­u­larly volatile day on court will be granted an un­of­fi­cial “va­ca­tion” from each other.

Rafael Nadal ex­pe­ri­enced a hia­tus from um­pire Car­los Bernardes of Brazil after the two clashed dur­ing the Rio de Janeiro tour­na­ment in Fe­bru­ary 2015. Nadal, well known for push­ing the bound­aries of time al­lot­ted be­tween points, had been warned on that front ear­lier in the match.

After tak­ing a break off court to change his clothes, Nadal re­turned to the match re­al­iz­ing he put his shorts on back­ward. Bernardes de­nied his re­quest to go off court to turn the shorts around cit­ing time as the rea­son, which forced Nadal into mak­ing the ad­just­ment in front of spec­ta­tors while on court.

After that match, Nadal ad­mit­ted he re­quested Bernardes not um­pire any of his matches for a pe­riod of time. He didn’t en­counter Bernardes again un­til he played a dou­bles match in the Qatar Open in Jan­uary 2016.

“As ev­ery­body knows, I had an is­sue with Car­los in Rio,” said Nadal, dur­ing his pre-Aus­tralian Open news con­fer­ence on Satur­day. “Ev­ery­body can have mis­takes. For me, the only rea­son why dur­ing a small pe­riod of time I re­quest if I can­not have him on the chair was be­cause, in my opin­ion, that day in Rio de Janeiro, he didn’t re­spect me. That is all. He make me change my shorts in front of 7,000 peo­ple. Sorry, I don’t be­lieve that’s nice. That’s all.”

Nadal in­sisted that he and Bernardes now have a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship.

“He um­pire me plenty of times after that.” Nadal said. “I am not peo­ple that go­ing to think about what hap­pened in the past. I see him on the air­port trav­el­ing all around. I al­ways say hello. Be­ing hon­est, I re­spect him a lot. I think he’s one of the best um­pires that we had for a long time.

“We don’t have prob­lems at all. If he’s on the chair to­mor­row, after to­mor­row, I will not think at all about what hap­pened in the past.”

Nadal also had words with Ramos dur­ing the 2017 French Open, where he won his record 10th of 11 tour­na­ment tro­phies. Ramos, a law-and-or­der style of­fi­cial, called Nadal out with a time vi­o­la­tion dur­ing a fourth-round match.

Aus­tralian Nick Kyr­gios is a player who fre­quently loses his cool dur­ing matches and of­ten throws tem­per tantrums in the di­rec­tion of um­pires. When asked about his over­all re­la­tion­ship with of­fi­cials on Satur­day, Kyr­gios joked, “I love them. Go to din­ner with them all the time.”

He then be­came se­ri­ous on the role of um­pires in the game and will­ingly took the blame for over­step­ping on nu­mer- ous oc­ca­sions dur­ing matches.

“I mean, their job is tough,” he ad­mit­ted. “They’re just do­ing the best they can. I un­der­stand that some­times I do go a bit too far in frus­tra­tion. When I’m com­pet­ing out there, you do kind of lose touch with re­al­ity. They’re just nor­mal peo­ple try­ing to do their best. They do make mis­takes.

“When I see them off the court, I kind of laugh when I walk past them,” he added. “They know on court things hap­pen. It’s a strange oc­cu­pa­tion to do. I wouldn’t per­son­ally do it be­cause I wouldn’t want, like, a guy like my­self just hound­ing me for 21⁄ hours. Some2 one’s got to do it, I guess.”


Ser­ena Wil­liams had a heated dis­pute with chair um­pire Car­los Ramos in the 2018 US Open fi­nal.

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