Novak Djokovic has taken aim at officials who made the ‘dangerous’ decision to continue play during his rain-affected straight sets victory over Daniel Elahi Galan at the French Open.
A slight rain threatened the start of Djokovic’s third round match against the world no.153, which Djokovic said he raised with the match supervisor prior to it kicking off.
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The call was made to play on, only until Djokovic himself called for a halt in proceedings when Galan slipped and fell rather hard.
After joking with courtside officials and briefly helping them sweep the court when conditions began to ease, the Serbian star went on the claim a convincing straight sets win.
While he progressed through the Roland Garros bracket without incident, Djokovic said he would have preferred to see the match delayed from the outset.
“I spoke with the supervisor prior to the match,” Djokovic said after the match.
“After seeing the way the sky looked and having a first drop of rain as we were walking onto the court, I asked: ‘Why don’t we close it beginning and just play out the entire match?’
“The chair umpire and supervisor thought that it was playable.
“I understand if you don’t have the roof. But this is exactly the reason why you build the roof – so why not use it?
“Particularly in these kinds of conditions when the roof is useful.
“That’s why I thought we lost quite a bit of time that affected our match. I felt it was a wrong decision in my opinion not to close the roof right away.”
In commentary during the match for Eurosport, British great Tim Henman agreed.
“It shouldn't take Djokovic to have to say to the umpire when it's so slippery, and that can be very dangerous,” he said.
“I think they definitely stopped it too late. It wasn't a great look for tennis or the tournament.
“It's interesting with the Chatrier roof, it's coming just from one end so quite quickly one end is covered but the other isn't.
“This one has to go all the way over from one end to the other.”
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Djokovic also questioned whether line judges should be on the court at all after his latest French Open victory, suggesting tennis had the technology to do away with them.
The World No.1, who defaulted from the US Open in September after hitting a lineswoman in the neck with a ball hit in frustration, said the time had come for tennis to reconsider the role of the on court officials.
“With all due respect for the tradition and the culture we have in this sport, when it comes to people present on the court during a match, including line umpires, I really don’t see a reason why every single tournament in the world, in this technologically advanced era, would not have what we had during Cincinnati and New York,” Djokovic said.
“The technology is so advanced right now, there is absolutely no reason why you should keep line umpires on the court. That’s my opinion.
“Of course I understand technology is expensive, so it’s an economical 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 any reason why anymore, to be honest.
“Maybe you can tell me if there is any significant reason why we should keep them other than tradition we had and have in this sport.”
Djokovic then joked about his US Open default, suggesting further use of technology would mean “I would probably have less chances to do what I did in New York.”
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