Everything Novak Djokovic had to say about linespeople, technology and the Philippe-Chatrier roof
- 04 Oct 2020
World No 1 Novak Djokovic used his press conference at Roland-Garros after beating Daniel Elahi Galan to discuss the future of technology in tennis.
In particular, the Serbian suggested that human linespeople were now obsolete – and should be replaced by robot calls.
He added, with a wry smile, that if fewer people were on court, he would not run the risk of hitting one with a stray ball – as he did at the US Open, which led to his disqualification.
Here’s what he had to say.
‘No reason to keep them’
“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 umpires, I really don’t see a reason why every single tournament in this world, in this technologically-advanced era, would not have what we had during Cincinnati/New York tournament.
“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 why any more, to be honest. Maybe you can tell me if there is any significant reason why we should keep other than tradition that we had and have in this sport.
“Then I would also probably then have then have less chances to do what I did in New York!”
‘Why not use it?’
The top seed was also asked about the roof over Court Philippe-Chatrier – which was closed midway through the match, meaning some quick court repairs were required, with Djokovic grabbing a broom to help out.
“I was asking [the supervisor], ‘Why do we not close it [at the] beginning and just play out the entire match? Because I saw the forecast. Obviously everyone uses different apps and websites for the weather forecast, but it didn’t look good at all.
“And when it started, you know, the chair umpire and supervisor thought that it was playable and I understand if you don’t have the roof, but I mean, this is exactly the reason why you build the roof so why not use it? Particularly in these kind of conditions when, you know, the roof is useful.
“So that’s why I thought we lost quite a bit of time actually that affected our match or maybe the match after…So, you know, you just lose a lot of time while the roof is closed or one side of the court is wet and you need to wait until it’s able for us to continue play.
“So I did feel like it was a wrong decision in my opinion not to close the roof right away.”