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Milos Raonic’s win over Juan Martin del Potro tainted by controversy

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Raonic’s win made him the second Canadian man through to the Rogers Cup quarters. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Injury and controversy marred a banner day for Canadian tennis as Milos Raonic defeated Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 6-4 in the third round of the Rogers Cup on Thursday. Along with wild card Vasek Pospisil’s upset over Tomas Berdych earlier in the day in Montreal, Raonic’s win put two Canadian men into the quarterfinals of their home tournament for the first time since 1989.

It was a match of the walking wounded. A back injury hampered del Potro’s ability to uncork his big serve as a weapon. Questions over Raonic’s health arose three games into the match, when the top-ranked Canadian called for a medical timeout that lasted 12 minutes, telling doctors that he felt numbness in his right arm. Despite the injury, Raonic was able to break del Potro at 6-5 to pocket the first set.

“Raonic has just had an 11min injury timeout (that’s supposed to be 3min!),” ATP commentator Rob Koenig tweeted. “It’s just not on. Makes a mockery of the rule… ridiculous. And the injury is pre-existing. … So don’t need too much time to “asses the injury”, right??”

Del Potro broke early in the second set and served at 4-3 when the umpiring controversy erupted. At deuce, Raonic raced up to the net to put away a short ball when his foot slipped and he clearly touched the net. But Mohamed Lahyani, an experienced umpire who oversaw the men’s Wimbledon final last month, didn’t see when Raonic’s touch occurred and ruled that the ball was dead, giving Raonic the point. Del Potro didn’t see the touch, either, but a replay on the stadium big screen clearly showed Raonic’s foot touching the net. The Argentine complained after seeing the replay. Lahyani admitted that he made a mistake but refused to overturn his call because as he saw it initially, the ball was dead before the touch.

“You make the mistake, I lose the point,” a despondent del Potro told Lahyani.

The conversation continued on the next changeover.

“It’s not fair what just happened,” del Potro said.

Lahyani didn’t necessarily disagree.

“I followed the ball and then I see this [pointing to the net],” Layhani said. “I missed it. I have to see two things. I have to follow where the ball bounced. … I have to see both things. It’s very tough. … It’s a human mistake. At least I’m honest.”

Del Potro failed to win another point. With break point in hand, Raonic converted with a backhand winner, held at love and broke del Potro at love to win the match. He’ll play Ernests Gulbis, who upset Andy Murray, on Friday.

Here’s video of the incident:

After the match, del Potro tweeted his disappointment:

Raonic admitted that he knew he touched the net.

Commentators for Tennis Channel and the ATP World Feed questioned how Lahyani could miss the call and speculated as to whether Raonic should have called the touch on himself. Brett Haber on Tennis Channel brought up the infamous incident at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when Fernando Gonzalez refused to admit the ball touched his racket before sailing out during his quarterfinal win over James Blake. Lindsay Davenport came down hard on Raonic, noting that there’s an “honor code” in tennis and that he should have owned up to the touch.

Should Raonic have called the touch on himself? Let us know in the comments. 

  • Published On Aug 08, 2013
  • 21 comments
    CM
    CM

    I think he should have conceded the point. 

    RobertAng
    RobertAng

    The rule applies when the ball is in play. It is in play until it bounces the second time or makes contact with certain specified structures. There is nothing ambiguous there. It is no great burden to know that you touched the net and when. The Code of Tennis requires that a player call the play on himself. Yet even Djokovic argued about it when he was called for that during his FO match with Nadal. Very few players do call such plays on themselves, and that is a shame.

    maria_pashova
    maria_pashova

    All of your discussion is pointless here when you see the press conference of Milos Raonic. It's just disgraceful. I liked the guy before, not anymore. I am very disappointed with his words and this is not a good example for children. Sorry Milos, a win at any price is not a good principle.  

    gopdogg
    gopdogg

    Gonzalez doesn't admit he touched the ball = Gonzalez is the bad guy!

    Philipp Petzschner doesn't admit he touched the ball = Petzschner is the bad guy!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhUmGiT5GqY

    Raonic doesn't admit he touched the ball = Give the kid a break!

    Kaboodle
    Kaboodle

    The umpire made the call. He never even asked Raonic to approach. Case closed.

    Though Rob Koenig seems to have had a real burr in his saddle about Raonic from the very beginning of the match...

    tennisplayerfor30yrs
    tennisplayerfor30yrs

    Seriously people. Think big picture here. Yes, there might be critical points during a match but ultimately the better player of the day will win period. Let's not over-dramatize this... unless you are the type to do so or are anti-Milos.

    Also, if you play tennis, you know you win some calls and lose some. That's part of the game. We just continue play and focus on the next point. Plus there's a BIG DIFFERENCE between recreational/local tennis and ATP. I say let the officials do their job period - that is what they are there for. If you are always worried about the right call, tennis as a professional career is not for you!

    You could also argue a gentleman (good sportsman) would not have tweeted such a message. Could you imagine the chaos out there if EVERY tennis player went after EVERY opponent who they were not impressed with???

     It's a game people. Not life or death. Both will have great tennis careers. You move on and fans should too. 

    rafannie
    rafannie

    Milos should have conceded the point. That is the sporting thing to do. However, the replay muddies up the issue because the match should not use replays to alter calls (except hawk eye). So if you take the replay out of the issue, MoLay would have made his call, Delpo wouldn't have seen what happened and Mo's call stays.

    sesquential
    sesquential

    I agree that Raonic should have fessed up and should have lost the point.


    That said, is that any more fair? Except for his toe touching the net, Raonic had plainly won that point. Is the automatic point deduction for accidentally touching the net a good rule?

    BURKB
    BURKB

    I play tennis and it's sportsmanship and tennis etiquette to be honest on the court.  If you touch the net you should admit it and lose the point.  If the ball double bounce's before you hit it you should call that on yourself.  Anyone that disagrees is just ignorant and dishonest themselves.  He touched way before the ball bounced twice, he knew, his face turned red and he turned to the umpire to see if he saw.  It's just like all the kids I played growing up that give tennis a bad name.

    Party_Gator
    Party_Gator

    Tignor is right.  Raonic knew he touched the net, but how is Raonic to know whether the touch happened before the ball was dead?   He's looking down trying to concentrate on not touching, so he can't see the ball.

    Sure, you call it if you know.   But Raonic probably didn't know.

    dayo1026_2000
    dayo1026_2000

    It's just plain bad sportsmanship.  Monfils ceded a point that went in his favor against Montanes last week, and the crowd applauded his great sportsmanship.  Roddick and Nadal have likewise made similar concessions.  Raonic exhibited bad sportsmanship.  Where is the honor in accepting a  point that you truly should not have received?  Capriati did it in 2004 against Serena and that whole fiasco lead to the challenge system.  Justine Henin lied in 2003 about raising her hand to win a point.  It says more about the character of the athlete than it does about the umpire's mistake.  That is why players like Nadal, Monfils, and Roddick are so good for the sport.  They earn their points and do not take advantage of situations that wrongfully disadvantage their opponents.

    proo
    proo

    It's not about whether he touched, it's about whether he touched before the ball went out of play. The umpire saw both events and made the call; it's not for Raonic to argue to reverse a bad call based on his own judgement. They all had the same information. There are going to be mistakes and over the long term you'd hope they'd even out. It's just unfortunate it turned out to be such an important point.

    Marg
    Marg

    Clearly should have called the net-touch on himself. That's the rule. I learned that rule 50 years ago when I started playing at age 5. I still play several,times a week and everyone I know follows that rule. You follow the rules when you are way ahead and when you behind, when you think you are going to win and when you think you are going lose.

    riles2000
    riles2000

    Seems that Tignor makes the right point.  Raonic perhaps can fairly claim that he wasn't aware initially that he touched the net while the ball was still in play.  Perhaps.  The bigger issue is whether he should have ceded the point after seeing the replay.  Can't see why he shouldn't have.  Presumably he's not as constrained as the referee is in acknowledging and accepting the replay.  

    CM
    CM

    @RobertAng Does anyone in the ATP willfully concede more points than Djokovic? Seems unfair to drag him in, even in a similar situation. After all, he lost that point, and the match. Raonic won both.

    tennispompom
    tennispompom

    @tennisplayerfor30yrs do you really think it's OK to get the point by any means because honest and fair play doesn't apply in ATP?

    By placing greater blame on Del Potro for tweeting that he was upset by it, you're showing your flawed judgement. If you think about it a bit, I hope you'll realise just how unfair that was.

    I used to like Raonic, but he really showed himself up here for all to see. He showed just how little integrity matters to him - less than taking a single point in a game of tennis.

    Raonic could have been honest and gone on to win the match, but now he may well be tarnished for the rest of his career. I hope he thinks about it and shows remorse by apologising to the Tournament and Del Potro.

    BURKB
    BURKB

    @tennisplayerfor30yrs This is not common in tennis, I have played all of my life and have been rooked on many points, but most people I feel are honest.  I have lost matches because I have been cheated, and that was a big point, If del potro would have won that point he could have won his serve and won the set.  One point can make a difference, I don't believe the better man won.  However you look at it Raonic is dishonest and probably cheated people all the time growing up, and doesn't think anything of it.  Read the players code, its in there. 

    tennispompom
    tennispompom

    @sesquential If Raonic hadn't been the rushing at the net so fast as to avoid touching the net (per rules), he might not have won that point.

    Whatever you think of the rule, it is a rule for all players, no exceptions for Raonic. THAT is fair.

    BURKB
    BURKB

    @proo I play tennis and it's sportsmanship and tennis etiquette to be honest on the court.  If you touch the net you should admit it and lose the point.  If the ball double bounce's before you hit it you should call that on yourself.  Anyone that disagrees is just ignorant and dishonest themselves.  He touched way before the ball bounced twice, he knew, his face turned red and he turned to the umpire to see if he saw.  It's just like all the kids I played growing up that give tennis a bad name.

    YourDirtyMind1
    YourDirtyMind1

    @Marg While the incident was unfortunate, Raonic calling the net touch on himself wouldn't have changed the outcome.  The issue was no longer whether he'd touched the net, but whether he had touched it before the ball bounced twice.  When you listen to the full video, you can hear the umpire stating that he knows Raonic touched the net, but he believed that Raonic touched the net after the ball had already bounced twice, and that was why he awarded him the point.  So while it would have been a sporting gesture for Raonic to admit he touched the net, it would have been irrelevant, as it isn't his call to say whether he did so before or after the second bounce of the ball.  Further, the umpire is not allowed to reverse his call based on the testimony of a player.  He can only do so if another present official (e.g. a linesman) tells him the net was touched before the ball bounced twice.  The only thing Raonic could have done would be to forfeit the point outright by saying that he was positive the ball had bounced twice, which in itself would have been a lie, since you can see he isn't looking at the ball when he touches it.  So in the end, an admission by Raonic would not have changed the situation, and people are overreacting.  Yes, it's an unfortunate situation, and yes, the umpire made an error. But it was one that Raonic's behavior ultimately would not have reversed.  

    proo
    proo

    @BURKB I do agree that he missed a big chance to show some good sportsmanship and if I were in his shoes I'd be regretting not taking the chance immediately. But I also understand that in the heat of the moment, he thought the umpire saw everything he did and made that choice. Sometimes you see plays you think are obvious and turn out to be wrong. That hesitation was maybe coupled with pain and fatigue, and proved just long enough until it was too late.

    I also see the umpire's point that he couldn't just reverse a call based on a media replay. If that were the case, it would be easy for a home stadium or TV producer to bias a game by only showing replays that benefit his/her favourite.

    Overall, I am disappointed he didn't react differently, but I think it's being blown a bit out of proportion and anyone could be caught on the wrong side of this circumstance depending on their physical/mental state at the time. The pressure must be quite different when you're a pro vs. playing for leisure, despite trying to relax and treat it as such as much as you can.