A Closer Look at the Prevalence of Time Rule Violations and the Inter-Point Time in Men’s Gland Slam Tennis
This is a review of the tennis analytics research conducted by Otto Kolbinger, Simon Grossmann, and Martin Lames, applying descriptive statistics, regression analysis, and Bonferroni adjusted comparisons.
Paragraph 29a of the official International Tennis Federation’s Rules of Tennis states that 20 seconds is the time limit allowed players between points. It appears to all watching a game that this rule is often broken by the players but not enforced by the umpires. This study looks at the rule violations and the umpire’s response. The influence of various factors regarding the time between points are also examined. Those factors include physiological, illustrated by the duration of the previous rally; physiological, illustrated by the number of played sets and service games; and tactical, illustrated by the current scoring streak and importance of the point.
Data from 21 matches at the 2016 Australian Open Men’s Singles tournament including 6231 rallies were analyzed. Data included serving player, receiving player, current score, whether it was a first or second serve, the number of strokes in the rally, the winning of the rally and the time between points. Any unusual events were also recorded like a player changing equipment, umpire overruling the line judge, umpire demanding that the audience be quite, other player appeals, and warnings. The analysis was limited to first serves and excluded any points that included any of the aforementioned unusual events.
First, the frequency of rule violations is determined using descriptive statistics and then two regression models will be used to determine which factors influence the duration of interruptions between points. The average time between points was higher than the limit of 20 seconds. This occurred 2034 times and only two were penalized by the umpire.
Bonferroni adjusted comparisons regarding the duration between points demonstrated 11 significant differences, especially between early and late games of a set with the mean time increasing later in the game. The average time was higher if the opponent won the last point than if the server won the last point. Time between tiebreaks was significantly higher than time between regular plays. The duration of the previous rally also had a significant impact on the time taken between points.
The results indicate that players will use extra time between points in order to recover, to disrupt the rhythm of their opponent, and to improve their focus for important point rallies.
The two warnings issued by umpires were not for the times that exceeded the limit the most, indicating that not only is the rule not judged as written, it is not judged fairly.
Analysts can use this to compare players regarding the average time they take between points. Players could be ranked according to the time and then analysts could look for any correlations between time and player ability or any other factors.
Either the rulebook needs to be revised or umpires need stricter guidelines regarding when to call time violations or some combination of both in order to ensure that all players receive the same treatment.
Analytics Used: Descriptive Statistics, Regression Model, Bonferroni
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