The 2010 Official Grand Slam Rule Book, distributed by the International Tennis Federation, is quite clear on the subject: Players should not receive coaching during matches (including warm ups) and communications of any kind, audible or visible, can be construed as coaching. Therefore Rafael Nadal had no complaints after being fined $2,000 by Grand Slam administrator Bill Babcock.
Things could have been a lot more expensive for the world no.1 who did not deny receiving advice from his coach and uncle, Toni Nadal during the third round five set win over Germany’s Philipp Petzschner on Saturday. The maximum fine for coaching offenses is set by the ITF and Grand Slam committee as $10,000.
“The rules are the rules," said Nadal who now faces a re-run of the recent French Open final when he meets Sweden’s sixth seeded Robin Soderling in the men’s singles quarter finals.
Nadal was also given a code violation by French umpire Cedric Mourier and the Majorcan was far more voluble, insisting the innocence of both himself and his uncle immediately after the match. Petzschner maintained he had not heard any coaching, just a few cries of "Vamos" from Toni.
“Toni wasn't giving me any tips, he was only supporting me," Nadal said. "Sometimes in the past Toni would talk, maybe too much, and the referee or the umpire would give me advice and, if it continued, a warning, but he didn't talk too much this time in my opinion. I told the umpire that we will be talking to the supervisor and this we will be doing."
Many players, Roger Federer the most prominent, have previously complained about the lines of communication between Nadal and his uncle during matches. But Wimbledon’s second seed is the not the only culprit of a rule that is widely abused and in the past Maria Sharapova’s entourage have even held up specific pieces of fruit to relay certain instructions.
On the WTA Tour, coaches are now allowed to speak to their players during changeovers and in between sets but Grand Slams are a different matter. However it remains a dubious area and prominent coach Nick Bollettieri, admits he has advised his players in the past by using the signals of touching his sunglasses, rubbing his nose, or by shouting out code words. “Anyone in tennis who doesn't think it happens should open their eyes and ears,” said Bollettieri.
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