It was sad for the eagerly anticipated and much awaited – thanks to Mother Nature – semi-final match to end the way it did.
A foot fault in Tennis is very much like a No Ball in cricket – you are not supposed to step on the line before serving or delivering the ball. Though I am constantly amazed at how the cricket umpire can track no balling while keeping a bunch of other things in mind as the bowler runs in to deliver the ball, this should not be a big issue for the linesman to call a foot fault because that is their only task as the serve is being delivered. In cricket, there are just the two umpires on the field whereas on the Tennis courts, there are – let’s see – the chair umpire and what, eight folks monitoring the lines? (Granted, I cannot really compare a five-day cricket match with a two-hour tennis match where one bad call can change the game much quicker than it would do in cricket.)
All that said, while it is difficult for a cricket fast bowler to ensure that he does not deliver a no ball, it should be relatively easy for a Tennis player to prevent a foot fault; after all, you don’t see players run in to serve in Tennis (though you probably will in Volleyball). So, it is very rare to see a foot fault in Tennis and, when it is called two points from match point, it does appear a bit unfair. Don’t they permit players to challenge and request a review on foot faults when they are permitted to do so on 140 mph serves?
I have got to reiterate how USA coverage of Tennis leaves much to be desired (I really wanted to use stronger language but do not want to be assessed a point penalty 😉 ). As we all know, there were two semi-final matches going on simultaneously. However, we got to watch zilch of the second semi-final. Why? No USA player was featured. And though this (foot fault) match ended a few minutes before the other one did, CBS had to go back and forth between advertisements, interviews with Serena Williams, replays and re-replays of the infamous incident. Even more frustrating was Dick’s promise, each time they went to advertisements, that they would come back with bits of the other match.
In her post-match press conference, Serena Williams claimed that John McEnroe was one of her idols growing up. McEnroe – as commentator – confessed that he felt he was on the hot seat now, as he had similarly defaulted out of the Australian Open a few years back. What I do not buy was his – and Williams’ – explanation that they were unaware of the point penalty rules.
All said and done, Clijsters won the match more than Williams lost it and, for once, Williams was gracious enough to acknowledge that Clijsters was the better player and she (Williams) would have had to play better to win.
Will Steffi Graf come out of retirement next? Inquiring minds of fans want to know. For those who were unaware, Graf and Clijsters had an exhibition set at Wimbledon back in July. It was pretty close. Graf might even double bagel Sania Mirza (OK, maybe she might not – but I don’t think anyone on the tour can double bagel Graf, even today)