PARIS (Reuters) – Novak Djokovic’s relations with line officials have been difficult of late and the Serb again risked their anger on Saturday by suggesting they were unnecessary.
The 33-year-old world number one was considerably abandoned in the fourth round of the US Open after inadvertently hitting a female linesman in the throat with a loose ball.
Now he believes their job should be done by Hawkeye technology.
“With all due respect for the tradition and culture we have in this sport, when it comes to who is on the pitch during a match, including the line (judges), I really don’t see why every tournament in this world, in this advanced technological age, wouldn’t have what we had in the Cincinnati / New York tournaments, ”said Djokovic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that the majority of courts in the US Open, which are among the main exhibition courts, have dispensed with linesmen as a health precaution.
They’re back at the French Open which, because he’s on clay, doesn’t use Hawkeye technology for close calls, instead relying on the referee to examine a mark in the red dust.
While the question of whether players should be able to challenge via a review of Hawkeye at the French Open and other clay court events, as they do on other surfaces, has been debated throughout. the week here, Djokovic seems to want to go further.
“The technology is so advanced right now, there’s absolutely no reason why you should keep the linemen on the pitch. That’s my opinion, ”he says.
“Of course, I understand that technology is expensive, so it’s an economic issue and a question mark. But I feel like we’re all heading towards that, and sooner or later there’s no reason to keep the linesmen.
“Yeah, ball kids, sure, nobody, yeah, but lines umpires, I can’t see why, to be honest,” he said before adding with a smile “I probably would have then less likely to do what I did in New York.
The Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, champion of Roland-Garros 2016, thinks rather that the traditions must be respected.
“They can have a HawkEye too, you know, on clay. It solves everything. But I think it’s pretty traditional (now), and I’m a traditional person. I like having, you know, line umpires and chair umpires. And I just like old-fashioned things, ”she says.
“You can put on a HawkEye and make it more modern, but I appreciate that I am not a machine on the court. (It would be) even more lonely just with us. A loudspeaker that says inside or outside. “
The ATP Next Gen tournament experimented with Hawkeye technology calling the lines using an automated voice rather than having officials on the pitch.