Tennis has been one of the leaders in sport when it comes to utilising technology in officiating, with Hawk-Eye being used to help with line-calling for more than a decade now.
But several controversial calls were made this week – particularly during the fourth round match between Dominika Cibulkova and Hsieh Su-Wei, and the third round clash between Novak Djokovic and Kyle Edmund – that have highlighted deficiencies in the current officiating system.
With VAR (video assistant referee) making its debut this World Cup, many have pointed out that further use of video replay is necessary in tennis.
During the Edmund-Djokovic match, an umpire awarded a point to the Brit even though he had touched the net, the ball had bounced twice, and his pick-up sailed out.
On Monday, umpire Zhang Juan made a mistake during the Cibulkova-Hsieh encounter. Late in the first set, with Hsieh serving at 4-5, a Cibulkova ball was called long but Hsieh hit the ball back anyway and it landed comfortable inside the court.
Cibulkova challenged the call and Hawk-Eye showed it was in. Zhang then decided to award the point to Cibulkova even though Hsieh had hit the ball and was not at fault in any way. The right call would have been to replay the point. Even the crowd were chanting “replay the point”.
Hsieh asked for the referee to come to Court 18 and play was delayed for nearly eight minutes as both players argued and eventually Zhang’s decision was reversed and the point was replayed.
If video replay was available, it would have taken seconds for Zhang to realise how wrong she was.
Of course Cibulkova knew what happened and could have suggested to Zhang they replay the point, but instead the Slovak complained about the officiating during her press conference, and said: “It was ridiculous what happened there. It never happened to me in my career that this would happen. Just a player is complaining. Sometimes I’m also complaining because I think it was a wrong call.
“But it never happened to me that the umpire changed the decision. It was really ridiculous for me. I think it was really bad decision from the supervisor and from the umpire.”
Quite the unexpected take from Cibulkova, who surely knows replaying the point was the right call.
She then continued: “The umpire told me she doesn’t remember what happened after the ball. Is it my fault you don’t remember if she hit the net or if she put it on my side?
“The right decision was, of course, to keep the decision. I mean, how many times it’s happening that a chair umpire is changing the decision?
I think there should be, like, maybe one rule for this because you never know what’s going to happen. It’s only about the chair umpire, what he thinks on his mind. Sometimes they can be wrong or right. Even if they are wrong or right, they are not going to change. I’m just talking it was not right to change the decision that she made.”
At a time when tennis is very much open to change and introducing new things – the shot clock will be used to count down from 25 seconds between points at the US Open – it’s time to consider some form of video replay to help umpires make the right decisions in such situations.
The seven-time champion faces Italian world number 52 Camila Giorgi for a place in the last four in only her fourth tournament since giving birth to daughter Olympia in September.
After sweeping aside Russian Evgeniya Rodina 6-2 6-2 on Centre Court, Williams, 36, had an ominous warning for her rivals.
She said: “I feel like I’m getting to where I want to be.
“For me, there’s so much further I want to go to get back where I was, and hopefully go beyond that.
“I’m getting there. I don’t think I’m there yet. I feel like it takes time to get there.
“I’m always striving for perfection. There’s a lot of things that, I don’t know if you can tell, but I really need to work on. Hopefully I can get there.”
“Whether it’s Miss or Mrs Williams, it’s still the same Serena”
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 9, 2018
Williams, currently the world number 181 having slipped down the rankings following her maternity leave, is the lowest-ranked player to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals in the open era.
Seventh seed Karolina Pliskova’s defeat to Kiki Bertens means that none of the top eight are in the quarter-finals for the first time since the All England Club introduced seedings in 1927.
Bertens will meet German 13th seed Julia Goerges, who beat Donna Vekic 6-3 6-2.
Dominika Cibulkova, whose straight-sets win over Hsieh Su-wei was overshadowed by a lengthy argument with umpire Zhang Juan over a disputed point, faces last year’s French Open winner and 12th seed Jelena Ostapenko.
Angelique Kerber, seeded 11 and now the highest-ranked player left in the tournament, beat Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-3 7-6 (7/5) and will meet Daria Kasatkina, who ended Alison Van Uytvanck’s run with a 6-7 (6/8) 6-3 6-2 win.
Provided by Press Association Sport
She hasn’t dropped a set yet, has spent less than five hours in total on court through her first four matches, is averaging a 24 winner-count in each round, yet somehow Jelena Ostapenko has been flying under the radar at Wimbledon this fortnight.
The Latvian 2017 French Open champion, lost in the first round of her title defence in Paris six weeks ago, but is back on a mission on the lawns of south-west London and booked herself a spot in the quarter-finals with a 7-6 (4), 6-0 over Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Monday.
After falling behind 2-5 to Sasnovich – who knocked out Petra Kvitova in the first round – Ostapenko won 11 of the next 12 games to wrap up the win and reach the last-eight at Wimbledon for a second consecutive year.
The 21-year-old, who next faces unseeded Slovak Dominika Cibulkova, won the Wimbledon junior title in 2014 and has an aggressive style that can be terrifying on grass.
Ostapenko’s shock first-round loss to Kateryna Kozlova at Roland Garros in May saw her drop out of the top-10. She parted ways with her coach of just six months, David Taylor, after Paris and added Glenn Schaap to her team, to work alongside her mother. Schaap had just split with Anett Kontaveit, also after the French Open.
“I’m just trying to forget it as quick as I could and I just want to have a good tournament here.”
That she is having.
The young Latvian has been her fiery self so far this Wimbledon, and has been particularly ruthless on return, winning 20 of 38 return games on her opponents’ serve.
With all top-10 seeds crashing out before the quarter-finals, Ostapenko is the second-highest ranked player still standing in the draw, behind No. 11 Angelique Kerber.
She has been witnessing all the high-profile upsets from afar but is trying to remain focused on her own path.
“I’m not surprised anymore because every day something strange is happening in a draw and some surprises. Just now Simona lost, that was a big upset probably. But I’m still in the draw and I’m playing and just trying to focus on myself,” Ostapenko said after her third round on Saturday.
“I’m just trying to focus on myself because I think that when I play well I can beat anyone.”
Does she have an explanation as to why all these top-10 players fell early?
“I don’t know. I think grass is always a tricky surface – for me I really like it but probably for the other players it’s hard because you never know what to expect because some players can play better on grass and the bounces are not always the same, so I don’t know what’s happening,” she replied.
Ostapenko says her current level is similar to how it was at the French Open last year but believes the grass is even better for her game.
Her first tournament with Schaap was Eastbourne, right before Wimbledon, and she says they’ve already struck up a solid dynamic.
“It was a good almost half year working with David [Taylor] but after the French Open we decided to not continue working because it wasn’t working anymore,” said Ostapenko.
“For me I think everything is positive that I changed the coach. When I started to work with Glenn, he told me some things and I really like those things and they were working very well. And I think it helps my game a lot what he’s saying.”
Ostapenko has now had three different coaches working alongside her mother within the last 12 months – Schaap, Taylor, and Anabel Medina Garrigues, who was in her corner during her Roland Garros title run last year.
It may not always be easy listening to all these different voices within one’s camp and Ostapenko admits it doesn’t always go too well.
“It depends, if I have respect and I saw what that coach did before then I have respect straightaway and I listen to everything he says but if I see that things aren’t really working so well then I’m doubting, and maybe I listen but inside I have this feeling that it’s not working and like I don’t need to listen to it probably,” she says with a smile.
With Ostapenko and her compatriot Ernests Gulbis both making the second week at Wimbledon this fortnight, it’s the first time in history that multiple Latvian players have made it this far at the same Grand Slam.
“It’s great to see him doing this well because I think he’s such a talented player and he can play on a very high level,” Ostapenko said of Gulbis.
“I hope he’s going to go even further in the tournament.”