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Indian Wells incidents make case for video replays in tennis

Video replays would save umpires and players avoidable embarrassment

Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, pictured in action against Novak Djokovic during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on February 25, 2014, experienced first-hand the limitations of the Hawk-Eye system in tennis. Pawan Singh / The National
Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, pictured in action against Novak Djokovic during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on February 25, 2014, experienced first-hand the limitations of the Hawk-Eye system in tennis. Pawan Singh / The National

Hawk-Eye, in its ninth season, has been a great addition to tennis, with Andre Agassi once describing it as “one of the most exciting things to happen for players, fans and television viewers” in his 20 years in professional tennis.

But, perhaps, it is time for the sport to embrace another technological aide: video replays.

Two incidents at the Indian Wells Masters last week, both involving the same chair umpire, Mohammed El Jennati, suggest it would be a good addition.

In the first, the Moroccan failed to see Denis Istomin’s raised hand as he challenged a call in his first-round loss to Radek Stepanek.

“No, I didn’t see it, because you didn’t do like this ... You didn’t raise your hand,” El Jennati said as the two argued. Videos show Istomin had clearly raised his hand and the ball was out as well.

Even Stepanek’s next shot did not land on the court, but El Jennati refused to listen and Stepanek was awarded the point.

Later, El Jennati made a questionable call in a match between Italy’s Fabio Fognini and American wild card Ryan Harrison.

In both incidents, the supervisor came out and ruled in favour of the umpire, claiming he had not seen it. Now, if the sport can use an expensive technology as Hawk-Eye, why not put a TV monitor at the umpire’s disposal?

In cricket, the third official, sitting in the stands, helps the two on-field umpires with the aid of replays. Tennis could adopt this approach. It would save the umpires a bit of embarrassment.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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