Tennis

/ Features

Chris Wilkinson

Chris Wilkinson Chris Wilkinson RSS FeedFeeds

Chris Wilkinson is a former British No. 1, who now serves as a tennis commentator and as a coach for the LTA. He is ESPN.co.uk's resident expert, providing an exclusive view on the world of tennis.

  • Chris Wilkinson

DQ the only option after Nalbandian's rush of blood

Chris Wilkinson June 19, 2012

Just when you thought Tommy Haas beating Roger Federer in the Halle final was the biggest story of the weekend, David Nalbandian blew that completely out of the water.

It was a shocking incident and he had to be disqualified. He was out of order. Players get frustrated on court and he had a rush of blood to the head - he wasn't thinking and he took his aggression out on the flimsy bit of wood surrounding the line judge's feet and drew blood. It was 100% the right decision to make.

If Nalbandian had been allowed to play on it sets a precedent for other tournaments. I'm sure after he had cooled down and had time to think about it he would know that he didn't have a leg to stand on.

He didn't do himself any favours when he spoke to the crowd either. He was given the chance to apologise, to say 'I'm sorry, I was wrong, I'll never do anything like that again', but instead he used it as an opportunity to air his frustrations regarding the ATP. They are two separate issues - plenty of players have issues with the way the sport is run, but that was neither the time nor the place to talk about that. It was almost like he had a chip on his shoulder - even his apology wasn't great - I don't think he came across well at all.

I do think there should have been a bit more communication with the crowd. The announcer should have just explained what had happened and that under ATP rules Nalbandian was disqualified. If you were watching it on TV you had the benefit of seeing replays and the commentators explaining the situation, but nobody in the crowd seemed to understand what was going on.

Obviously they were frustrated that the match was over - it was turning into a good match and it was just starting to get juicy. But rules are rules - if a footballer had done that it would have been a straight red card, and Nalbandian had to go.

If a footballer had done that it would have been a straight red card, and Nalbandian had to go

Players get frustrated and throw their rackets on the floor, and for that they get a warning, but to kick out and injure a line judge is a very different matter. You can have sympathy for when Tim Henman got disqualified in the men's doubles at Wimbledon back in 1995 - it was unfortunate that the ball girl ran out in front of him when he smashed the ball in frustration but this is very different.

From Cilic's point of view I am sure he would have wanted to win the match in his own right but at the end of the day he has got the trophy and the prize money and when you look down the roll of honour in years to come, his name will be on that list.

It has been a difficult week for the tournament organisers with the weather playing havoc with the schedule and last year's finalists Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga crashing out so early. And of course with Rafael Nadal opting to play at Halle and Novak Djokovic choosing to skip the event I do worry for the tournament.

With the top players only concerned with the grand slams and Masters events, I fear the ATP 250 tournaments are struggling. When you look down the list of previous winners at Queen's you have got the likes of John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Andy Roddick. It is a prestigious event, but if the top players don't want to play it has a knock-on effect - they may sell fewer tickets and lose their sponsorship.

Tommy Haas rolled back the years to beat Roger Federer in the Halle final © PA Photos
Enlarge

It was a great win for Tommy Haas this weekend, beating Roger Federer in the Gerry Weber Open final. At 34, it just shows what a great competitor he is. He has just broken back into the top 50 after his victory - his first in three years - which is astonishing when you consider that he was ranked as low as 896 this time last year.

Three of the four finalists this weekend - Haas, Federer and Nalbandian - are all over 30. Before this year the last final which featured two over 30s was 2007, and we have had two this year already (Jarkko Nieminen beat Julian Benneteau in the Sydney final in January). The average age of players in the top 100 is getting older, and that is encouraging for Andy Murray, who at 25 is yet to win a grand slam.

An early exit from Queen's is hardly cause to panic before Wimbledon, but I do worry that he may struggle for lack of match practice. Granted, he has time to get some real hard training in on the grass, but a couple of exhibition games don't make up for real competitive matches. That's why Andy Roddick has taken up a wildcard at Eastbourne this week.

I am sure Murray knows what is best for him but I know that given the choice between getting matches under my belt and training I would opt for game time.

Of course Murray has a chance at winning Wimbledon, but to be honest I can't see beyond the big three, with defending champion Novak Djokovic being the slight favourite. Beyond the top four, Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (if he is fully fit) have an outside chance.

In the women's draw, I think Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams are the ones to beat. After a few years of surprise women's finalists, it would be great to see a classic dust-up between those two - a repeat of the 2004 final.

Chris Wilkinson is a former British No. 1

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Feeds Feeds: Chris Wilkinson

Chris Wilkinson Close
Chris Wilkinson is a former British No. 1, who now serves as a tennis commentator and as a coach for the LTA. He is ESPN.co.uk's resident expert, providing an exclusive view on the world of tennis. Chris Wilkinson is a former British No. 1, who now serves as a tennis commentator and as a coach for the LTA. He is ESPN.co.uk's resident expert, providing an exclusive view on the world of tennis.