The rule for medical timeouts in grand slam tennis should be tightened up.

I was watching the Lleyton Hewitt v Cedrik-Marcel Stebe match earlier this week and it was looking like going to five sets.

Hewitt had won the first two, Stebe the third and the German was 5-1 up in the fourth. However, his inexperience caused him to tighten up and Hewitt fought back.

At a critical stage in the fourth set, 5-6, Stebe called for a medical timeout, hoping Hewitt would lose the momentum that had seen him come back from what looked like defeat. It didn't work.


The crowd lifted Hewitt and helped him win his first round at the Australian Open in typical scrapping style.

Stebe looked to be cramping and cramping is generally caused by lack of conditioning and match fitness. Sorry, but if you don't have the strength to win the game, then it's only right you should lose. When a marathon runner cramps up, the others aren't told to hold their positions until the afflicted runner is back on the track.

I understand the humanity behind the rule - nobody wants to see a player writhing in agony. But if a player is unable to continue, they should forfeit the match.