Like most tennis fans, I have lost count of all the injuries that have been plaguing both Tours since the beginning of the season, and the situation did not improve since the beginning of the Australian Open.
However, another plague has touched the first Grand Slam of the season, which is really, with all the incidents that have happened in the first few days, threatens to become in the mind of many the UNhappy Slam. That plague is that of the ridiculous fines given to the players for gestures that, elsewhere, would earn most of them little to no punishment at all.
Up to now, the fines given were as follow:
- Julien Benneteau: $2,500 for verbal abuse. I don’t know what the verbal abuse is, but I doubt that it is as bad as that of Serena Williams towards chair umpire Eva Asderaki at the last US Open, for which she was fined $2,000. Question: will Victoria Azarenka, who berated a linesperson and the chair umpire yesterday serving for the match and out of challenges, be fined the same?
- Gilles Simon, Juan Carlos Ferrero, and Donald Young were each fined $1,500 for “audible obscenities” (read: having sworn). Again, I don’t know what the situation was for any, but if Roger Federer was only fined $500 in the 2009 US Open final for having said “I don’t give a s**t” to umpire Jake Garner, it must have been very bad words or, again, a gross exaggeration from the ITF. I expect that Alexandr Dolgopolov will also join the “fined for swearing” bunch for last night’s outburst, unless he joins Benneteau in the “verbal abuse” part.
- Alexandr Dolgopolov has already been fined $800 for racquet and equipment abuse, same as John Isner and Denis Istomin, who each broke a big total of one raquet during a match. Somewhere Marat Safin must be chuckling.
- Marcos Baghdatis was initially fined $800 for his racquet breaking tantrum in his second-round match. I suspect that the fine given Dolgopolov, Isner, and Istomin made the ITF change their mind, as his fine has since then been re-evaluated to $1,250.
- Fernando Verdasco received a $2,000 fine for coaching during his match against Bernard Tomic. His coach had, at some point, yelled him, “Vamos, just break him!” If that is called coaching, then how come he has received the same amount fined Rafael Nadal in Wimbledon 2010, when Toni Nadal’s coaching was far more blatant and obvious as that one encouragement from Verdasco’s coach?
A very heavy fine based on hearsay
But the biggest and most unfair fine of all is the one that has been given to David Nalbandian. Unjustly deprived of the right to challenge a match-turning call by French umpire Kader Nouni, Nalbandian was yesterday fined $8,000 for having allegedly thrown water (from the sink) onto an official as he was washing his hands before a routine anti-doping test.
I insist on the word allegedly, as the tournament never gave the reason of the fine in their official release, only saying “unsportsmanlike behaviour”. It was from an AP freelancer that the water story emerged and quickly spread itself in the social media. However, in order to be completely fair, this story is only based on heresay, as according to various media, even the organization took the word of said official to ensue the fine to the Argentine.
Obviously, Nalbandian wasted no time to react, via release. Informed of the fine, the Cordoba native, just back to Unquillo following his heartbreaking and unfair defeat to John Isner, denied all the allegations thrown his way, and finished with those words: “By perpetrating this fine, they would be conducting two injustices, one on-court and one off-court. I will appeal of the sanction.”
From then on, it is really the battle of the hearsays. One says one thing, the other says another, all this without actual proof that the actions have been committed or not. Strictly speaking, Nalbandian could very well be cleared of the fine due to lack of evidence.
However, the most frustrating part will never be given back to him: thanks to Kader Nouni’s irresponsiblity and lack of judgement, he will never have had the chance to see if he could’ve passed that first-round match.
The Open of the ridiculousness
With all these very high fines, suffice to say that the Australian Open is threatening to surpass the US Open 2011 in being the most ridiculous Grand Slam of the last decade. In a time when the players consider uniting to fight for their rights, it might have been wise of the ITF to tone down on the ridiculous fines. They will only add to the discontent of the players.