'Absolutely no reason': Novak Djokovic's shock call to break tennis tradition

Chris Young
·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
A 50-50 split image shows Novak Djokovic attending to a line judge at the US Open on the left, and a picture of him during the French Open on the right.
After being defaulted from the US Open last month for hitting a ball which struck a line judge, Novak Djokovic has suggested tennis use technology to do away with the on-court officials. Pictures: AAP/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic has questioned whether line judges should be on the court at all after his latest French Open victory, suggesting tennis had the technology to do away with them.

The Serbian superstar breezed past Columbia’s Daniel Galan with a 6-0 6-3 6-2 victory that saw him through to the top 16 at Roland Garros, even helping sweep the court during a rain delay.

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But the World No.1, who defaulted from the US Open in September after hitting a lineswoman in the neck with a ball hit in frustration, said the time had come for tennis to reconsider the role of the on court officials.

“With all due 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 umpires, I really don’t see a reason why every single tournament in the world, in this technologically advanced era, would not have what we had during Cincinnati and New York,” Djokovic said.

“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.

“Of course I understand technology is expensive, so it’s an economical 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.

“Yes, ball kids, of course, ball person, yes - but line umpires, I don’t see any reason why anymore, to be honest.

“Maybe you can tell me if there is any significant reason why we should keep them other than tradition we had and have in this sport.”

Djokovic then joked about his US Open default, suggesting further use of technology would mean “I would probably have less chances to do what I did in New York.”

Novak Djokovic storming through French Open

The 33-year-old was rarely extended by his 153rd-ranked opponent and even found time to help out with court sweeping duties when the match was interrupted by rain.

Djokovic, like 12-time champion Rafa Nadal, has reached the last 16 without the loss of a set although things will toughen up with powerful Russian Karen Khachanov up next.

The 33-year-old Serb won the first set in 28 minutes and when he broke for a 2-0 lead in the second set a rare "triple bagel" looked a distinct possibility.

But Galan, a lucky loser from qualifying, got on the board with a forehand winner which brought loud cheers from the small crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Novak Djokovic is pictured celebrating after winning against Colombia's Daniel Elahi Galan at the French Open. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)
Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning against Colombia's Daniel Elahi Galan. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

With heavy rain falling and the roof sliding slowly across, Djokovic ordered play to be halted after Galan slipped on the muddy baseline.

After more clay had been added to improve the slimy surface, a laughing Djokovic offered a hand with sweeping duties before resuming his day job with the roof closed.

After that, the outcome was never in doubt although Galan did make the Serb work up a sweat with some courageous tennis.

Djokovic had to save four break points in a competitive third set before completing victory.

With AAP/Martyn Herman

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