Last night I watched the last of the Women’s Quarterfinal matches from the Australian Open. It was the headline match of Karolina Pliskova versus Serena Williams. The color commentary for this match was Mary Joe Fernandez and Cliff Drysdale along with Pam Shriver. It turned out to be an epic match with momentum swings as huge as the serves or groundies delivered by both players!
The first set of the match went to Pliskova in a closely contested 6-4 set. The second set was equally close going to Serena 6-4. Then came the third set with Serena on a roll and up 5-1. Pliskova was just not as sharp and Serena was doing what she’s known to do—close out a match. But then while serving for the match and on match point, she is called for a foot fault. Much to my surprise the first words from Mary Joe were something like—I can’t believe they would call a foot fault on match point. She continued her commentary with how she couldn’t believe that this was the first foot fault of the match and that somehow it was the linesman’s choice to call it or to not call it. REALLY? Are foot faults commonly not called? (I mean yes they are not called in my matches but that’s because we don’t have a line judge let alone an umpire!) But a rule is a rule is a rule and one would think that it would be called on every infraction. Yes?
All I really want to say here is this: rules are rules.
Do not blame the line judge for making a fair call just because it is match point. In fact the line judge should be rewarded for having the courage to do their job and do it without regard to the weight of any one point! Because the truth is that the rule doesn’t change as the score changes!
And if you somehow don't already know, Karolina saved that match point and several others to win the set and the match! She won it with her big serves, great returns, and amazing groundstrokes-not because of any one call.
Shame on all of the commentators who forget the first rule, the rules don't change because of who is playing or what the score is!