John McEnroe: Victoria Azarenka right about using more replay
After a much-debated call in her French Open loss to Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka suggested that perhaps it's time for full-on instant replay to be used in tennis -- beyond simply the Hawk-Eye line-calling technology used at other tournaments.
''Sometimes we need to have a review,'' Azarenka said, explaining that chair umpires could use ''a little TV screen'' that would also allow them to monitor audio and video.
Not surprisingly, John McEnroe would support that sort of thing.
''Why not have video replay? I mean, to me, we should have video replay even if someone calls a foot fault,'' McEnroe said Sunday at Roland Garros.
Williams offered a similar thought after coming back to beat Azarenka 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday, making a wink-and-a-smile reference to when she was called for a foot fault at the end of a 2009 U.S. Open semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters.
In general, Williams agreed with Azarenka's proposal.
''It could definitely not only be fun for the fans,'' Williams said, ''but as well be helpful for the players to have that kind of instant replay thing.''
On the point in question Saturday, Azarenka was serving while trailing 5-4 in the second set. She hit a shot that landed near the baseline, and Williams netted a response. A late ''out'' call was made -- replays showed it came after Williams swung her racket, and she acknowledged later that was the case - yet it turned out Azarenka's ball was in.
Chair umpire Kader Nouni could have awarded the point to Azarenka but decided instead that it should be replayed, incorrectly thinking the call disturbed Williams.
Azarenka, of course, disputed that ruling immediately -- and at her news conference. She used an expletive to describe the call, adding, ''and everybody knows it.''
Azarenka lost the replayed point and that set, part of a run in which Williams took 10 of the last 12 games.
McEnroe, a seven-time major champion who had his share of run-ins with chair umpires as a player, announced the third-round match on television.
''It's pretty easy -- and I'd include myself in this -- where you make up in your own mind that maybe this did happen, and maybe it did affect you. It happens very quickly. And you could see on the replay that it didn't affect (Williams),'' he said.
''So maybe replay would have helped,'' McEnroe added. ''And then maybe Serena would have seen it.''
Instant replays to check officiating calls are more and more common in American sports.
''Maybe you do use the replay in tennis the way the NBA does in the last couple minutes,'' McEnroe said.
Tournaments such as the U.S. Open (on hard courts) and Wimbledon (grass courts) use the Hawk-Eye system to check line calls. But it's not employed at clay-court events, such as the French Open, because balls leave a mark on that surface.
The question of whether the ''out'' call disturbed Williams would have been an issue on any surface, though.
Asked after her fourth-round victory Sunday whether tennis should adopt full instant replay, 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic said: ''I haven't thought about it, to be honest. But it would be interesting to have it, probably, because at the end of the day, it's about fair play.''