French Open does not use Hawkeye technology to determine close calls: “The technology is so advanced right now, there is absolutely no reason why you should keep line umpires on the court,” says Djokovic
Last Updated: 04/10/20 1:17pm
Novak Djokovic has insisted there is no reason for tennis to continue using line judges and instead called for technology to be used on a wider scale.
The world No 1, who was defaulted in the US Open after inadvertently hitting a female line judge in the throat with a loose ball, has suggested the sport should consider a break from tradition in its use of on-court officials.
“With all my respect for the tradition and the culture we have in this sport, when it comes to people present on the court during a match, including line (judges), I really don’t see a reason why every single tournament in this world, in this technological advanced era, would not have what we had during the Cincinnati/New York tournaments,” said Djokovic, who beat Columbia’s Daniel Galan to reach the French Open fourth round on Saturday.
The coronavirus pandemic meant the majority of courts at the US Open, apart from the main show courts, dispensed with line judges as a health precaution.
However, they are back at the French Open which, because it is on clay, does not use Hawkeye technology for close calls, relying instead on the chair umpire to examine a mark on the court surface.
“The technology is so advanced right now, there is absolutely no reason why you should keep line umpires on the court. That’s my opinion,” Djokovic added. “Of course, I understand technology is expensive, so it’s an economic issue and a question mark. But I feel like we are all moving towards that, and sooner or later there is no reason to keep line umpires.”
He then added with a smile: “Yes, ball kids, of course, ball person, yes, but line umpires, I don’t see why anymore, to be honest. I would also probably then have less chances to do what I did in New York.”
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However, Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 French Open champion, argued in favour of traditions being respected.
“They can also have a HawkEye, you know, in clay court. That solves everything. But I feel it’s pretty traditional (now), and I’m a traditional person. I enjoy having, you know, line umpires and chair umpire. And I just like things the old way,” Muguruza said.
“You can put a HawkEye (in) and make it more modern, but I appreciate not being a machine on the court. (It would be) even more lonely out there just with us. A speaker that says in or out.”