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Video: Anabel Medina Garrigues fluffs new tennis balls against Serena

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Anabel Medina Garrigues became just the seventh player to deal a bagel set to Serena Williams, but the Spaniard lost 6-3, 0-6, 7-5 in the Madrid Open quarterfinals on Friday. If only that was the only notable thing she did.

During the first set, Medina Garrigues took new tennis balls about to be swapped in and rubbed them against her racket to fluff them up, thus slowing them down. New balls are faster than used balls because the felt surrounding the ball is still tight and intact. They slow down with each rally as the ball begins to fluff. Medina-Garrigues is a clay-court specialist who owns the Guinness World Record for most WTA clay titles by an active player with 10. Slowing down the balls would mitigate Williams’ big serve and heavy hitting off the ground. Medina Garrigues’ move didn’t work. Williams broke her ensuing service game.

Video: Ferrer blows shot at two match points against Nadal

“The match went pretty well until 3-3 when they changed the balls,” Medina Garrigues told reporters in Madrid, according to Tennis.com. “Afterwards in the 5-all [in the third set] I was serving with new balls, which I hated. It’s an error. For her the ball moves faster; you have less control.”

So is tampering with the ball legal? I’ve never seen anyone do this before, but there’s no written rule preventing it.

Is it a dirty form of gamesmanship? Absolutely. Players aren’t even allowed to hit match balls for practice, such as when a player wants to hit a few serves to stay warm during an opponent’s extended medical timeout. In those situations the player is given used balls, if any, so as to not affect the natural wear of the ball. That concept applies here. Imagine the slippery (fluffy?) slope if more players start trying this. If I’m a journeyman playing Roger Federer, I’m bringing sandpaper to slow them down. I’d need all the help I could get.

A WTA official was not immediately available to comment. I’ll update the post if I hear back.

Update: In a statement to SI.com, the WTA Tour acknowledged that Media Garrigues could have been issued a code violation. “Had the umpire witnessed the scuffing of the balls, the umpire would have instructed the player to stop,” the WTA said. “If the player did not stop, it could have led to a code violation.”

Video via YouTube user dyadyaBOB.

  • Published On May 10, 2013
  • 29 comments
    dayo1026_2000
    dayo1026_2000

    Lastly, why does the article say "Madrid opponent" instead of calling her out by name?  What's up with that!!!!

    dayo1026_2000
    dayo1026_2000

    OMG!!  Where the heck was the umpire.  And how was she not called out for this gross behavior.  This is cheating at its worst.  Why isn't this plastered all over the net and Medina called out for this gross  behavior.

    DedricWalker
    DedricWalker

    I can't believe that let her get away with that!

    LeonaFlynn
    LeonaFlynn

    She cheated and STILL lost. I watched this match and noticed she shot a furtive glance over Serena's way when she was done and getting back up to return to court. I wonder if Serena noticed?

    SingleAlley
    SingleAlley

    I would have thought there is a rule that players are not allowed to touch new balls until game time....shame on her for cheating.

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

    yes, the WTA will sweep this under the rug, because serena didn't do it. the ump must have been blinded by the sun, which is why she did not see this blatant cheating. if, serena had done this, her picture would have been pasted on the front of all tennis articles, as a cheater, and mary and pam would have cried out for her to be banished for life, from tennis!

    vs2tennis
    vs2tennis

    I wonder if this will actually be "swept" under the rug never to be mentioned again...only for some to say "Does it matter because what she did had no impact on the outcome of the match"....well I say it does matter...it's poor sportsmanship and it's "cheating"...duh...what was the chair umpire doing???   This was so in her face... too bad Richard wasn't around...

    Sabrina1
    Sabrina1

    How did the ump miss this?  She fluffed about 5/6 balls.  The ball boy saw it for sure!

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

    re: the update, had the umpire witnessed the scuffing of the balls, the umpire would have instructed the player to stop. WELL WHAT WAS THE UMPIRE DOING? D A Y D R E A M I N G??

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

    if mary carillo or pam shriver had gottten a whiff of serena doing something like this, their fangs would be dripping arsenic as they went in for the kill, on serena!

    lloydsed12
    lloydsed12

    Wow lol blatant cheating!! I'm sure the umpire saw this but acted oblivious - aiding and abetting much ...umpires can be very disgusting!

     

    I agree with you all, this was against Serena so the ump doesnt intevene even a lotta of the writers care less but if Serena did this lmaoooooooooooo only God knows what would be said

    pickel
    pickel

    you will update the post if you find out any thing.  come the heck on now, if that was serena you people would jump on this like white on rice.  you would have a couple of good months on this demonizing serena.  why the heck cant you find an official when it is a cheater, cheating against serena.  this whole thing smell BOGUS.  in plain sight cheating and  everyone turns a blind eye.  i guess they want to sweep this under the rug, nothing here to see.  i wrote john wertheim about this. anxious to hear what he says.

    dami1
    dami1

    That is so gross... But hey, what do you think of a tournament where the public booes during points, programming quarter finals at midnight (Stanislas Wawrinka finished his match at 1:40 am this morning! How fair is that when Rafa was playing in the afternoon?.. Not to mention that there was nobody at that time in this cold clinkstone stadium :/

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

    yeah, boldly cheating. unbelievable that the chair ump didn't see what she was doing. she sure was not hiding!

    ICHUSE2
    ICHUSE2

    Medina is dirty birdie... Foul Foul Foul!!!!!!!

    ICHUSE2
    ICHUSE2

    If Serena tried some crap like that we would never hear the end of it!!!!!! Wow!

    ICHUSE2
    ICHUSE2

    That's some foul crap!!!!!! Medina is a cheater!!!!!!!!!!

    DedricWalker
    DedricWalker

     @cleopatra209

     I agree with you and most of the other Serena fans that have commented on this. I'm also happy to know that I'm not the only one who has noticed how Mary Carillo and Pam Shriver are "anti-Serena".

    Bobito
    Bobito

     @cleopatra209

     If you watch the video, a ballboy was standing over her with a parasol. The player's seats are slightly behind the umpire's. The umpire's view was therefore probably blocked by the parasol.

    SingleAlley
    SingleAlley

    @cleopatra209 no they respect Serena. Please do not use your wild imagination.

    Dubois100
    Dubois100

     @ICHUSE2 Yet another blatant lowly act of cheating and/ or gamesmanship against Serena, and the Williams sisters, in a long list.  Incredible how blatant this act was.  Says a lot for the likes of Garrigues and her like.  Have to hand it to these two amazing women, that they still play and are such great champions, almosta decade and half after they began their pro career.   Many would have been disillusioned and quit by now.  Shows how much mental fortitude these two women have in enduring, and overcoming, this bias so well and for so long.  Shows that they have wonderful character too, many would have been weighed down by bitterness and not achieved a fraction as much.  I really hope one day that they get their due, that it is generally acknowledged that they overcame a fairly hostile pro tennis environment.  But i doubt it, given how these blatant acts get glossed over time and time again

    dayo1026_2000
    dayo1026_2000

     @Bobito  @cleopatra209 Surely the umpire saw her tossing each ball across the court after she scuffed them up.  The parasol didn't block that.  And the umpire must have seen the ball boys handing the balls to her.  The umpire let this go and should be called out along with Medina for this egregious behavior.

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

     @Bobito ok, let's say that it is true that the parasol blocked her view? why would a player sitting on the bench during their rest period be given the balls prior to a new game? seems to me the ump holds the new balls until both players walk onto the court and then gives the balls to the ball person to give to the server. seems to me that is what makes the most sense, so tampering with the balls cannot occur.

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

     @SingleAlley  @cleopatra209 they cannot stand serena. they butchered her during the 2009 U.S. open. so you must be trying to funny. it is ok to say that someone behaved badly at a tournament, perhaps once or twice, then you move on and let it go. pam and mary took every opportunity to debase and denigrate serena, during the course of the U.S. open. even when the men were playing they had to bring up her name and debase her some more. then they want to interview her during other slams, as if they like her. SUCH HYPOCRITS!!!

    tpwarren23
    tpwarren23

     @cleopatra209  @SingleAlley No Cleopatra209, you have it wrong. Mary Carillo and Patrick McEnroe were the ones trying to butcher Serena. Pam Shriver was one of the few who took up for Serena and even got into a heated debated with M. Carillo over the issue. I was so proud of Pam for taking up for Serena and not kicking her when she was already down.