Roger Federer survived a thrilling five-set encounter against Australia’s John Millman in round 3 of Australian Open on Friday. The 20-time Grand Slam Champion eventually came out the winner after a tie-breaker in the final set, and advanced to the fourth round with a 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 4-6 7-6 (10-8) win. But despite the strong fight, his Australian opponent John Millman was accused of “ball tampering” during the clash. Maria Sharapova’s former coach Sven Groeneveld, in a tweet, pointed out that Millman was captured rubbing two tennis balls on his wet t-shirt, which could help in speeding up the serve after it hits the ground.
In a tweet, he wrote: “Millman applying the old trick in speeding up the first serve by rolling the ball on his (I assume) wet shirt before he serves? Is that legal in tennis I know it’s not in other ball sports like cricket and baseball? Do we have a rule in tennis?”
As per USTA rules, a player “may not take any action that materially changes the condition of the ball. Therefore, a player may not use a ball to wipe off perspiration.” But no such clause has been pointed out by ITF.
1987 Wimbledon Champion Pat Cash came to Millman’s defence saying the sweat has barely any effect on the ball. “It’s absolute c**p. Rubbing the ball on a sweaty shirt has very little effect on the ball, if any effect all. “It’s more to smooth the cover of the ball down. It becomes a habit for some players. John Newcombe and lots of our great champions used to do back in the day when the ball quality probably wasn’t as good,” he told Daily Telegraph.
“How does that affect anything? It’s crap. Cricketers are allowed to use sweat and saliva on the ball to help it swing. That’s legal. Using sweat on a tennis ball does virtually nothing. It might make it fractionally heavier but it would have no impact on the receiver. It’s b–lshit,” he added.
Federer will next face off against Hungarian star Márton Fucsovics in the fourth round on Sunday.
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