‘Why do we need line judges?’ asks Djokovic

World No 1 Novak Djokovic wants line judges to be replaced by technology


There has been debate over whether Hawk-Eye should be introduced at clay-court events, especially at the only major on the red dirt, Roland Garros.

But World No 1 Novak Djokovic has gone a step further, and asked why is there a need for line judges when electronic line calling technology is available.

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“With all my respect for the tradition and the culture we have in this sport,” said Djokovic, after his 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 win over Daniel Elahi Galan in the third round of the French Open on Saturday.

“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.”

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To limit the number of people on court to a minimum during the pandemic, the Western & Southern Open had implemented an electronic line calling system. Even during the US Open, barring the two main courts, all the other courts had the technology for line calls.

The line judges have returned at the French Open, the only major so far not to have Hawk-Eye.

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“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.

“Yes, ball kids, of course, ball person, yes, but line umpires, I don’t see why anymore, to be honest,” he said before adding with a smile. “I would also probably then have less chances to do what I did in New York.”

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Djokovic had scuppered his chance of winning an 18th Grand Slam title in New York as he was defaulted in the fourth round of the US Open. The 33-year-old Serb had angrily struck a ball at the backboard without looking. But the ball hit a lineswoman in the throat, sealing Djokovic’s fate.

In Paris, the World No 1 has been in great form so far, losing exactly five games in each of his three matches.