Daniil Medvedev caused a stir for his reaction to an unusual hindrance penalty in his second-round win over Alexander Bublik at the National Bank Open in Toronto on Tuesday.
The top seed came through 4-6 6-3 6-4 in a match that also saw a 53-minute rain delay and Medvedev denied a bathroom break to change his underwear.
But it was the hindrance penalty that had everybody talking after the match, with debate over whether the umpire made the right call and if Medvedev’s reaction was over the top…
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An eventful match started with Bublik taking the first set in hot and humid conditions. But the rain started to fall early in the second set and players were taken off court for nearly an hour.
When they returned Medvedev won three of the first four games, but was also frustrated when he was not allowed to go to the locker room to change his underwear.
“The only chance for me to change my underwear is over there but there are cameras there,” he told the umpire. “I’m okay to do it, but everybody is going to see me.”
There was more to follow as, with Medvedev leading 2-0 in the third set, the umpire penalised him for a hindrance.
The call came after Medvedev hit a smash at Bublik that knocked the Kazakh player to the floor. Perhaps not expecting the ball to come back over the net, Medvedev said “sorry” to his opponent. But the ball did come back and Medvedev had to smash it away again to win the point – or so he thought.
As he went to whack the ball away the umpire, Aurelie Tourte, called “hindrance”.
Medvedev looked stunned by the decision but was told by the umpire: “I called hindrance because you spoke during the point.”
A chuckling Bublik seemed unsure what was going on, asking: “Who spoke during the point?”
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Medvedev found the situation less amusing. “I had the ball to hit! You didn’t have any ball to hit! Can you imagine how stupid this call is?” he said over the net. “He’s laughing at you [the umpire]! This is unbelievable what you have done!”
While Bublik continued to see the funny side, he seemingly didn’t understand what exactly had happened when it was time to restart play, questioning why he had received the point. Medvedev was also shocked that Bublik was going to get the point and they were not going to replay it.
What are the hindrance rules?
The ATP rules state that: “A hindrance may result (1) from a corrected call by an official or (2) from an inadvertent event that occurs on-court.”
In the case of the latter it is added: “A distraction occurring on-court may be ruled inadvertent (unintentional) or ruled deliberate.
“a) Inadvertent distractions may include the following (a “Let” may be called in these cases): a ball rolling onto the court; a ball falling out of a pocket; a hat falling off; or an involuntary sound or exclamation (ex. verbal reaction to an injury) from a player. Any player who created the hindrance must be advised that the next time play is stopped by the Chair Umpire because of that player’s similar actions; it shall result in a loss of point.
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“b) Any distraction caused by a player may be ruled deliberate and result in the loss of a point (intentional or unintentional). Deliberate is defined as the player meant to do what it was that caused the hindrance or distraction.”
If the umpire deemed that Medvedev apologising was a distraction to Bubilk then her decision was correct.
What did Medvedev say afterwards?
Medvedev saw the funny side of the incident after the match, although he suggested he would not have done if he had lost.
"First of all, that's a good thing. It was fun. If it would be a breakpoint it would be less fun, I'm telling you."
“For me, the thing is that either they should change the name of the rule, because "hindrance," I looked at it on Google Translate, because I was not sure what it means. I thought it meant disturbance, like to disturb somebody. I was right. You can ask Bublik if I disturbed him by saying "Sorry." He will say no. I had the smash, which I would never miss in my life. I actually put it away.
"Even if he jumped like, he couldn't get the ball. So again, there was no hindrance. There was no disturbance. Yeah, it's about the rules. Same about the rule where if the rain stopped the match for one hour or 45 minutes, why do I still have no toilet breaks left? It's a new match. I mean, there are some rules that should maybe considered to, I don't know, to be more precise or whatever. Because again, there was no hindrance. So, yeah, that's all I have to say."
It is the third time Medvedev has beaten Bublik this season and he will face either Jannik Sinner or James Duckworth in the third round.
What else happened in Toronto?
New world No 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas dropped an epic 22-minute second-set tie-break to Ugo Humbert, but still came through in three sets.
Tsitsipas spurned five match points in the tie-break but raised his level afterwards to win 6-3 6-7(13) 6-1.
"It's all about the fighting spirit," said Tsitsipas, who will next face Aslan Karatsev or Karen Khachanov. "I'm someone who doesn't like to give up... It wasn't easy out there today. I had to do a lot. I put a lot of effort into stepping it up and to be my best today."
Khachanov saved eight of 10 break points to beat Cameron Norrie 6-4 5-7 6-4.
Sixth seed Casper Ruud extended his winning run to 12 matches with a 6-3 3-6 6-3 victory over Marin Cilic while Reilly Opelka followed up his win over Nick Kyrgios with a 6-3 6-4 success against 14th seed Grigor Dimitrov.
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