- Arthur Fils’ match against Luca Nardi soon made headlines for unique reasons
- Experienced chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani was caught short by a new rule
- Both young players were confused when they were quizzed on the rule at 40-0
Tennis fans were left stunned when a chair umpire intervened to have players swap ends mid-game.
During the ATP’s Next Gen Finals in Jeddah, which plays host to the sport’s best young male players, two of them were left dumfounded when mid-game with the score at 40-0 they were told to swap ends.
France’s Arthur Fils, the tournament’s No 1 seed, was serving and ready to hold to love when experienced chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani stepped in to reveal the new rule.
The Next Gen finals regularly trial initiatives to revolutionise the sport and as well as shorter sets – first to four games – there was a change to changeovers.
Both Fils, his opponent Luca Nardi, of Italy, and chair umpire Lahyani appeared to forget there are no changeovers at the tournament after the first game of the set.
Two rising tennis stars were left baffled with a new rule making them change ends mid-game
Italy’s Luca Nardi could not grasp the new rule and sought clarification from the chair umpire
And so with Fils, who lost the first set 4-2, was preparing to serve at 40-0 to start the season set, Lahyani stopped the game to speak.
‘It’s 40-0 you go there and serve. It’s how it is,’ he told a confused Fils.
‘It’s 4-2 you have to be there.’
‘I lost this game, it was 3-2, 4-2,’ a baffled Fils, who is world No 36, said.
Lahyani responded: ‘You have to be on this side.’
Twenty-year-old Nardi then intervened: ‘But why? Because it’s the rule?’
Lahyani continued: ‘Yes that is the rule.’
Fans were left totally confused and Nardi continued to find it too difficult to comprehend.
‘Every set? Doesn’t matter what is the score?’ Nardi said.
Lahyani then confirmed: ‘You should be there yes. So now you go, 40-0 you go there.’
Still trying to come to terms with the new rule, the players swapped ends, before Fils went on to win the contest 2-4, 4-3, 4-2, 1-4, 4-2.
The way the rule worked, the players should have swapped ends after the 4-2 opening set and remained on that side for the first three games of the second set.
France’s Arthur Fils (top) won the point up 30-0 to go to 40-0 as he prepared to serve it out
Yet he was made to swap ends prior to serving for the game in a never-before-seen change
The clip of the bizarre incident was put on X by TennisTV and it soon had more than 200,000 views.
‘Well this is interesting. I’ve never seen this before. It’s going to be a week of adapting, the umpires have got to get used to it,’ the Amazon Prime commentator said.
‘I’ve never seen a server change ends mid-game before.
‘They basically went to the wrong side at the end of the set. Mohamed realised and asked them to swap.’
Not all fans saw the funny side, though.
One wrote: ‘Having them play one way all year just to change it for the last event was such a dumb decision by the ATP.’
Another added: ‘Embarrassing honestly – so much noise and no respect to the players.’
A third said: ‘Another tournament that should be scrapped.’
Fils was left dumbfounded by the demand to change ends but it is part of a series of initiatives