Sportsmanship moments never go unappreciated in any sport, and tennis is no exception. The gesture shows that there is something much more at stake than just winning. There have been several occasions where players have themselves overruled the calls of the linesmen or the chair umpires, to reward the point to their opponent despite the score line or the time duration of the match. Today we look at some of the moments in recent times where the players have rightfully awarded the point back to their opponents.
- Dominic Thiem vs. Kevin Anderson
Trailing by a set, and at 4-4, with Thiem serving, Anderson returned a serve, which landed flush on the line, but was called out by the linesman. Thiem then put his hand up to gesture that the ball was in, and encouraged Anderson to challenge the call. The point was rewarded back to Anderson, and although Thiem went on to lose the match in a thrilling third set, the sportsmanship moment won over many hearts.
- Jack Sock vs. Lleyton Hewitt
Lleyton Hewitt took on the big serving American Jack Sock in the Hopman cup in 2016. Hewitt’s first serve was called out at one point during the match, and just as Hewitt was about to toss his second serve, Jack Sock called out to Hewitt and said, “That was in if you want to challenge it”. Hewitt looked perplexed initially, but then went on to challenge the call, and sure enough, it was in. Lleyton Hewitt went on to win the match, but the mach will be remembered for reasons other than that.
- Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Roger Federer
In the semi-finals of the Australian open earlier this year, Roger Federer took on his friend and compatriot Stan Wawrinka. After battling through an epic five setter, Federer went on to reach the finals, but there was a moment in the match, where Federer was two sets to one up, and Federer’s serve was called ‘out’. Wawrinka though noticed that it had caught a piece of the line, and asked Roger to challenge the call. Sure enough, the ball was in, and Wawrinka received a warm round of applause from the spectators and a hank you from Federer. Although Federer went on to win, this moment of sportsmanship did not go unnoticed.
- Tim Smyczek vs. Rafael Nadal
In a marathon, five set match in the Australian open 2015 that displayed a true test of grit of determination by Rafa, against Tim Smyczek, there was a moment in the match when the match was in its fifth set, with Rafa having just broken Tim and serving for the match at 6-5 up, when a spectator in the crowd cat called Rafa just as he was about to serve. The ball sailed long and just as Rafa was about to serve his second serve, Tim asked the chair umpire to replay the point and that Rafa should receive a first serve again. Rafa went on to win the match, but he appreciated Tim’s sportsmanship moment at a pivotal point in the match. In his post match on-court interview, he called Tim a real gentleman, and said that not many people on the tour would have done what he did at 6-5 in the fifth set. Although Rafa scraped through the match, this moment of sportsmanship won over plenty of hearts at the Australian open.