Australian tennis legend Todd Woodbridge says that he hopes that the lines people will not be removed from tennis matches in the future after Novak Djokovic's default from the US Open on Sunday. The World No. 1 from Serbia was defaulted from the US Open in New York after he accidentally hit a lineswoman with a ball, late in the first set of his fourth-round match against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta.
Due to the move by tournament officials to restrict the number of people on the tournament grounds this year amid the global pandemic, the tournament has line judges only on the two main courts while all other courts are using the Hawk-Eye Live system for line calls.
Even prior to this incident, some had speculated that the Hawk-Eye Live system may eventually replace line judges. It has already been used by World TeamTennis and the ATP’s Next Gen Finals event.
Woodbridge on the effect of Novak Djokovic incident on line judges in tennis
Speaking to World Wide of Sports, Woodbridge, one of the top doubles legends in the game and now a leading tennis commentator, says removing line judges would make tennis matches much less exciting and devoid of some of the drama.
"I think lines people are a very important part of the drama of the game. But it would be a shame if this incident results in just having electronic calling. It just doesn't have the same feel, there's no way to challenge a tight call, I hope that this week's incident doesn't make that change to our game.
Otherwise you dumb it down to a point where it isn't entertaining. It's simply void of human emotion, and that's why we watch sports, for those moments. I love Hawk-Eye, I love the fact you can challenge and not lose a match because of a bad call, but at the same time I don't want a computer running things.
After that you may as well take the chair umpire away as well." After the default, Novak Djokovic issued a statement to apologise for his actions on the court and also requested his fans to support and show care to the linesperson involved.
This is not the first time that a player has been disqualified from a major event. In the past, John McEnroe, Tim Henman, Serena Williams and David Nalbandian are among those who have been defaulted from a tournament.