Originally created 09/09/04

Rain delay turns talk to replay



NEW YORK - In the players' lounge, in the locker rooms, in officials' offices Wednesday, TVs around the U.S. Open showed Jennifer Capriati's quarterfinal victory over Serena Williams.

With rain washing out live matches, people had a chance to see the officiating error that took a point from Williams and gave it to Capriati in the third set's opening game Tuesday night.

That replay was everywhere. Well, everywhere, that is, but the chair umpire's stand during the match itself.

And with no new results to talk about, the buzz around the National Tennis Center on Wednesday afternoon was about whether instant replay or other tools should be used to help make better rulings. There were at least two other questionable calls in the final game of Capriati's 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 win.

"It was such a horrendous call. If I was closer to the court, I would have run onto the court," said John McEnroe, who called the match on USA. "I've seen a lot of bad calls in my day, but I don't think I've seen three bad calls in a set like that."

Not surprisingly, given his "You cannot be serious!" reputation for on-court arguments, McEnroe favors adding some form of replay to tennis.

He would put limits, though, as there are in other pro sports, such as perhaps some sort of penalty for a wrong challenge. In the NFL, for example, a team can get up to three chances per game to question calls; if it loses a challenge, it forfeits a timeout. Limited forms of replay are used in the NHL and NBA, too, but baseball has never shown any interest in trying it.

"Do we put a TV on the umpire's chair and leave it up to them? Or do we go to a player-challenge system?" U.S. Tennis Association executive Arlen Kantarian said. "We don't want to go out there with a system that's 90 percent accurate. We want a system that's 100 percent accurate."

The USTA, ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation ran some tests two weeks ago of a line-call system that uses six to eight cameras and GPS.

Curiously, on Saturday, Capriati lobbied for instant replay after she argued some calls during her third-round victory.

"Even from watching other matches, they haven't been too good. This level of the game, when it's so close, and one or two shots can make a difference, I don't think it's fair," she said. "I'd like to know what we're waiting for. I don't see why they don't start at least trying it. Money, maybe. I don't know. I don't see this tournament being short on money, you know."

At deuce in the third set's first game, chair umpire Mariana Alves of Portugal awarded the point to Capriati after Williams hit a backhand that landed in - and was ruled good by the line judge. TV replays showed that the ball was at least an inch in.

"It's a well-contested match without all that stuff. What's sad is instead you have questions about the calls," Tracy Austin said. "It's sad to see it end that way. It kind of took away from it."

It was eerily reminiscent of Wimbledon, where Venus Williams lost in the second round after Karolina Sprem was mistakenly awarded an extra point in the final-set tiebreaker. Venus didn't argue at all, saying later she was confused; chair umpire Ted Watts was kicked out of that tournament and is not at the U.S. Open.

Alves was a candidate to officiate a women's match Wednesday, but tournament director Jim Curley said she won't work the rest of the Open.

"The decision was made, in the best interest of the tournament, not to have her work as a chair umpire," Curley said. "We'll evaluate her performance. She'll be under consideration for next year."

U.S. Tennis Association executive Arlen Kantarian said some form of helping with calls is "theoretically possible next year," but ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti is far less optimistic."We're not ready ..." Ricci Bitti said in Italian. "We need to go step-by-step. The chair umpire needs to have the final say - it's not certain that video replay is always right."



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