Paris: The calls for an umpire review at the French Open got louder after a line call drama during the third round match between Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams late on Saturday evening.
With Azarenka down a set point at 4-5 in the second set, having blown off a lead of 4-2, the linesman called her shot long. The chair umpire, Kader Nouni, inspected the mark and over-ruled the call, but asked the players to reply the point. Azarenka, glaring down from the net, claimed she should have got the point since it was a late call anyway. But there was no arguing with the umpire, who was back on his high chair.
"That call was b**ls**t, and everybody knows it. But it's part of the game. Sometimes it happens this way. But I think it wasn't a fair call," Azarenka said after her 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 defeat to Williams. The Belarussian had been ahead for most part of the two sets, but a battling Williams found a way to get into the match and on her nerves.
"I think that we need to have a review. I do, when I give a benefit of a doubt always, that is, you know, a 50/50 situation, there is a close call and whatever, but that was so damn clear that you cannot make these mistakes at this level. How would you call that? She already hit the ball. The ball was touching the net and he says it's not a late call. So for me, there definitely has to be a review on that. We have a Hawk-Eye, so might as well just have that," she added.
Azarenka said that she did not need to clear the air with Williams because it was the umpire's job to call it right. As a gesture that what happens on the court remains on the court, she also gave Williams a pair of shorts from her French Open outfit since the American had liked it so much.
For her part, Williams supported Azarenka's suggestion that a review was required.
"I think that would be really cool, because sometimes you may or may not foot fault (smiling) and that instant replay on that foot fault," she said, hinting at the famous foot fault call against her during the US Open semifinal against Kim Clijsters in 2009, which resulted in her gesturing and abusing a lineswoman, and being given a point penalty on match point down.
"So, yeah. And obviously other things, as well. It could definitely not only be fun for the fans, but as well be helpful for the players to have that kind of instant replay thing. I think that's a really great idea."
While all the other Grand Slams have hawk-eye and players are given two challenges each set, the French Open has steadily veered away from the technology. The ball marks left on clay are enough evidence for the match officials to go by, but it wasn't just the case of calling the lines correctly on Saturday. An umpire review could help revolve a tricky, and potentially volatile, situations like these. More importantly, it would be fairer to the players.