Caught in the Net: Fears of illicit coaching could see new type of shot banned


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The Independent Online

The Grand Slam Rule Book, which details how the sport's four major tournaments should be conducted, has 15 pages devoted to "player offences", covering everything from clothing regulations and punctuality to racket abuse and verbal obscenities.

Another misdemeanour might soon have to be added: taking photographs on court. Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky has been fined $2,000 (about £1,300) after taking a photograph during his first-round French Open defeat by Richard Gasquet last week. Angered by the umpire's decision not to reverse a line call, Stakhovsky used his phone to take a close-up photograph of the ball mark. "It was just spontaneous," he said afterwards.

The world No 101, who posted the picture on Twitter, had done exactly the same at a tournament in Munich earlier this year. He also recalled Viktor Troicki ushering a TV cameraman on to the court in Rome last month to verify what the Serb was convinced was a bad line call.

However, the use of phones or any electronic devices is not permitted on court unless there is prior agreement. Officials in Paris fined Stakhovsky for unsportsmanlike conduct, a charge which Bob Bryan can expect after doing exactly the same during his doubles game yesterday. With more players taking their phones on court – Gaël Monfils, with the permission of the umpire, used his to take photographs of the crowd during a match last week – the Grand Slam Committee will review their rules.

Roger Federer believes there is a danger that players could use phones to receive on-court coaching, which is not allowed at Grand Slams or on the men's tour. "It's only going to happen more," the Swiss said. "It would probably be so easy to do. Go to the toilet and you hide it somewhere."

Father, forgive them

Alarming tennis dads part one: Thomas Drouet, the hitting partner whose nose was broken when he was head-butted by Bernard Tomic's father and coach, John, clearly has no qualms about working with controversial parents.

Drouet has quickly found new employment with France's Marion Bartoli, who is back working with her father, Walter, after a brief break. Walter, whose idiosyncratic methods include bizarre pre-serving routines and the use of home-made training contraptions, can be such an intense presence beside the court that his daughter once told him to leave during a match at Wimbledon. Drouet nevertheless told L'Equipe: "It's good to work with normal people. With Walter and Marion it's strict and serious but at least there's no ranting."

Alarming tennis dads part two: Aravane Rezai, a former world No 15 now languishing at No 185, is back working with her father, Arsalan. The 26-year-old Frenchwoman had split with him after he was banned from the women's tour two years ago following an alleged confrontation with his daughter. Rezai said last week that the reconciliation was going well and that the relationship with her father was much better than in the past. "We all deserve a second chance," she said.

Double blow

Laura Robson was not the only one disappointed that she had to pull out of the women's doubles because of a back injury. Robson's withdrawal meant that her partner, Lisa Raymond, ended a run of 71 consecutive appearances in Grand Slam women's doubles events. The 39-year-old American, who made her Grand Slam debut 24 years ago, last missed a doubles competition in 1995, at Wimbledon.

Handsome response

Grigor Dimitrov, who is dating Maria Sharapova, was asked last week where he thought he would rank in a poll to find the sexiest tennis player on tour. The 22-year-old Bulgarian proved that he has a quick wit to go with his good looks. "Why are you asking me?" Dimitrov replied. "How can I put myself out of the top three?"