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Tennis rules minutiae has never been sexier than this early Australian Open point-of-the-tournament contender

January 19, 2022

What we’re about to show you is unquestionably the point of the 2022 Australian Open so far, and in about 10 days time, you can remove “so far” from that statement. It came in Tuesday’s second-round thriller between Pablo Carreno Busta and Talon Griekspoor, helping lead the Spainard—most famously the guy on the other side of the net when Novak Djokovic pegged a ball woman in the throat at the U.S. Open—to a five-set, four-hour-and-fifteen-minute victory. If it somehow slipped by you in the middle of the night here on the other side of the planet, check it out.

A couple things you’re going to notice right away. First of all, this isn’t some scorching forehand winner, ludicrous lob, or no-look tweener. In fact, as far as shots-of-the-tournament go, this might hold the record for shortest distance traveled. But mostly you’re going to notice that Busta clearly plays this from Griekspoor’s side of the net, which, for all the tennis casuals in the audience, is a thing you can do … apparently.

This was news to us as well, but because Griekspoor’s shot landed on Busta’s side of the court before backspinning back the way it came, Busta was, for a split second, legally able to play the ball from his opponent’s territory provided he didn’t touch the net or impede his opponent. Also because the umpire allowed it to happen, because it’s not a true “rules” moment without a healthy dose of gray area.

So there you go, folks. Tennis rules made sexy. The sport still has a long way to go before it can compete with golf’s festishization of order and ordinance, but perhaps Busta’s now-viral moment will help it on its way.