Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

The serve clock reduced rule violations, but did not speed up the game: A closer look at the inter-point time at the 2018 US Open

Alexander Mühlberger, Otto Kolbinger

Abstract

After treating time rule violations as a trivial offense over the past, tennis associations in 2018 permanently introduced an on-court serve clock to make sure that players do not exceed the time limit between points. In this study, we investigated the influence of this technological officiating aid at its first use in Grand Slam tennis at the 2018 US Open. By investigating time intervals between 2135 points at the Men’s single tournament we found that the share of rule violations decreased (26.3%), but the average time did not (21.6s) compared to previous studies. We could further confirm that the players still use this time interval for tactical reasons and to recover after longer rallies. In addition, the umpires, which do not show any reputation bias, have a significant influence on the inter-point time as well. Based on these findings we suggest introducing a serve clock that is started automatically. Further, we argue that a dynamic time limit, which takes the intensity of the previous rally into account, would be more appropriate. Players could be granted more time for recovery after longer rallies, but less time after shorter ones in order to reach the intended goals regarding pace of play.


Keywords

Time rule; Umpiring; Serve clock; Technological officiating aids; Tennis

References

Arias, J. L., Argudo, F. M., & Alonso, J. I. (2011). Review of rule modification in sport. J Sport Sci Med, 10(1), 1–8.

ATP. (2018). USTA, ATP & WTA Implement Rules Innovations At Events Throughout Summer. Retrieved from https://www.atptour.com/en/news/shot-clock-implemented-in-us-summer-swing-2018

ATP. (2019). The 2019 ATP® Official Rulebook. Retrieved from https://www.atptour.com/-/media/files/rulebook/2019/2019-atp-rulebook_02may.pdf

Berman, M. N. (2010). Let’em Play: A Study in the Jurisprudence of Sport. Geo. LJ, 99, 1325–1369.

Dohmen, T., & Sauermann, J. (2016). Referee Bias. J Econ Surv, 30(4), 679–695. https://doi.org/10.1111/joes.12106

Grand Slam Board. (2019). Official Grand Slam® Rule Book. Retrieved from https://www.itftennis.com/media/1236/2019-grand-slam-rule-book.pdf

Halldorsson, V. (2016). Coaches Use of Team Timeouts in Handball: A Mixed Method Analysis. The Open Sports Sciences Journal, 9(1), 143–152. https://doi.org/10.2174/1875399X01609010143

ITF. (2019). ITF Rules of Tennis. Retrieved from https://www.itftennis.com/media/298557/298557.pdf

Kim, J. W., & King, B. G. (2014). Seeing Stars: Matthew Effects and Status Bias in Major League Baseball Umpiring. Manage Sci, 60(11), 2619–2644. https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2014.1967

Kolbinger, O., Großmann, S., & Lames, M. (2019). A closer look at the prevalence of time rule violations and the inter-point time in men’s Grand Slam tennis. Journal of Sports Analytics, 5(2), 75–84. https://doi.org/10.3233/JSA-180277

Kolbinger, O., & Lames, M. (2017). Scientific approaches to technological officiating aids in game sports. Current Issues in Sport Science (CISS), 2:001. https://doi.org/10.15203/CISS_2017.001

Kolbinger, O., & Stöckl, M. (2019). Misbehavior During Penalty Kicks and Goalkeepers Holding the Ball Too Long as Trivial Offenses in Football. Frontiers in Psychology, 10:844. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00844

Kovalchik, S. (2018). Why the tennis “serve clock” may be a waste of time. Significance, 15(4), 36–39. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1740-9713.2018.01173.x

Kovalchik, S. A., & Albert, J. (2017). A multilevel Bayesian approach for modeling the time-to-serve in professional tennis. Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, 13(2), 49–62. https://doi.org/10.1515/jqas-2016-0091

Maquirriain, J., Baglione, R., & Cardey, M. (2016). Male professional tennis players maintain constant serve speed and accuracy over long matches on grass courts. Eur J Sport Sci, 16(7), 845–849. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2016.1156163

Mills, B. M. (2014). Social Pressure at the Plate: Inequality Aversion, Status, and Mere Exposure. Manage Decis Econ, 35(6), 387–403. https://doi.org/10.1002/mde.2630

O’Donoghue, P. D., & Liddle, S. D. (1998). A Notational Analysis of Time Factors of Elite Mens and Ladies Singles Tennis on Clay and Grass Surfaces. In A. Lees, I. Maynard, M. Hughes, & T. Reilly (Eds.), Science and Racket Sports II (pp. 241–246). London: E & FN Spon.

Parsons, C. A., Sulaeman, J., Yates, M. C., & Hamermesh, D. S. (2011). Strike Three: Discrimination, Incentives, and Evaluation. Am Econ Rev, 101(4), 1410–1435. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.101.4.1410

Pollard, G., & Noble, K. (2002). The Characteristics of Some New Scoring Systems in Tennis. In Proceedings of the Sixth Australian Conference on Mathematics and Computers in Sport (pp. 221–226). Australia: University of Technology, Sydney.

Simmonds, E., & O’Donoghue, P. (2018). Probabilistic models comparing Fast4 and traditional tennis. International Journal of Computer Science in Sport, 17(2), 141–162. https://doi.org/10.2478/ijcss-2018-0008

Standen, J. (2013). Foot faults in crunch time: Temporal variance in sports law and antitrust regulation. Pepp. L. Rev., 41, 349–396.

USA Today Sports. (2018). Citi Open implements shot clock, emulates MLB in desire to improve pace of play. Retrieved from https://eu.usatoday.com/story/sports/tennis/2018/07/31/tennis-shot-clock-follows-mlb-wish-speed-up-play/874161002/

WTA. (2019). WTA Official Rulebook. Retrieved from http://wtafiles.wtatennis.com/pdf/publications/2019WTARulebook.pdf




DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/jhse.2021.163.05





Copyright (c) 2018 Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.