We couldn’t be more serious! Tennis tech cuts disputes but kills the drama
US Open has been an experiment, with humans coming off the worst against robots. But it all feels quite inevitable
The disputed line-call is one of tennis’ great theatrical moments. Without it, we would not have had such classics as John McEnroe’s “You cannot be serious!” or Jimmy Connors’s “Get your ass out of that chair, you bum!” Yet the genre has been in decline since the introduction of Hawk-Eye challenges in 2006.
And at the 2020 US Open the outside courts went a step further by using fully automated line-calling technology. In fact, the whole tournament has acted like a Petri dish for studying the advance of technology – because the two biggest stadiums, Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong, retained flesh-and-blood line judges.
Predictably, events did not reflect well on the humans. As it turned out, one clear loser from the piecemeal approach was world No 1 Novak Djokovic, who was disqualified in the fourth round. His swipe at a loose ball could hardly have hurt a line judge if there had not been any standing on the court...