I watched short clips of the incredible moment at Wimbledon 2018,
where the umpire gave a point to Kyle Edmund after he hit a ball on
the second bounce. I was sure there was more to it than that brief
clip, so I watched the fourth set in which the incident occurred.
Adding some background makes this triple, or maybe even quadruple
umpiring error even more interesting.
For those of you who have not seen the
, Djokovic hit a soft ball to Edmund’s forehand when Edmund
was moving away to guard his other side. Edmund desperately shifted
course and scooped under the ball, hitting a nasty cross shot that
Djokovic could not possibly reach. Edmund’s cross shot, however,
was out (it was not called out). Edmund dropped his racket in the
followthrough, and his momentum took him to the net. Edmund wound up
with both hands on the net as Djokovic began to argue with the
umpire. The commentators believed the umpire was claiming that Edmund
had gotten his racket under the ball before it bounced, and the ball
came off the edge of the frame. Djokovic said later he simply argued
that Edmund’s shot was impossible unless he hit the ball after the
second bounce. (The video shows clearly that the ball bounced twice
before Edmund hit it.)
Quite amazingly, this umpiring error cost Djokovic two points. The
umpire assessed a penalty for delaying the game while he argued. It’s
a good thing for that umpire that Djokovic managed to win the match.
First of all, why didn’t Edmund concede the point? It is
possible, as he insisted afterwards, that he had no idea what had
happened. But on the previous point, Edmund’s sense of injustice
must have risen to astronomical levels. Novak Djokovic had hit a
serve that the linesman called out (a long ball), just as Edmund
swung at it. Edmund’s return was long. The umpire overruled the
line judge (correctly, I believe) and called the serve in. Edmund
asked to replay the point. The umpire ruled that even if the ball had
been called in, Edmund failed to return it, and gave Djokovic the
point. Edmund argued that he would have hit the ball better if it had
been called in.
This is an umpire’s judgment call, and you could see it made
Edmund furious. When he went after that ball on the double bounce, I
would not blame him for feeling that the universe owed him one point.
Now it is clear that Djokovic won the point, because:
The ball double-bounced
Edmund hit it out (Djokovic could not see this, and he did
not challenge; the Hawkeye showed it was out)
Edmund dropped his racket hitting the ball. He could have
been called for throwing his racket.
Edmund’s forward motion took him into the net. The umpire
should have noticed this before Djokovic occupied his attention.
Why didn’t the linesman call Edmund’s shot out? The
commentators on TennisTV believed the linesman stopped paying
attention as soon as the ball double-bounced. It was obvious to the
linesman that the point was over.
What fascinated me most was the aftermath. If you have a chance to
see a replay of the rest of the match, you will see two incredibly
angry players fighting every point. Usually, players impress me with
their deep concentration, but here, they both felt unfairly treated
Kyle Edmund is a British player, and this incident occurred on his
home ground in Wimbledon. Before this point was played, the crowd
seemed almost divided in their applause. But the crowd had no
patience for Djokovic’s argument with umpire. After play continued,
they roared with approval every time Edmund scored a point.
I can’t wait to see the aftershocks from this incident. Some
people called Edmund a cheater for failing to concede the point. (But
please note, it is possible he really did not realize what he had
done.) I personally think Edmund should have conceded the point for
touching the net.
The umpire is going to be awesomely criticized. And please note
that the bad call just happened to favor the home player.