Victoria Azarenka has the perfect word to describe tennis technology

Broad use of technology can be good or the worst thing ever.

Al Bello/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

Early in a quarterfinal match of the Miami Open that featured Victoria Azarenka and Yulia Putintseva all seemed to be going well. Azarenka was down a break but the match was only 2-1 Putintseva in the first set. Anything could still happen to either player, but instead, something happened to both and exposed what could become a commonplace situation in tennis beginning in 2025.

That is the court lost power. The Miami Open is using all electronic line calls and there are no linespeople, of course, and no backup linespeople should the power go out. In other words, Azarenka and Putintseva had to stop playing indefinitely. The chair umpire was immediately in touch with IT and explained that she had no sound (for the ping of the line call) and no video in which to see the ball hit or miss the line.

No one could do anything other than wait. And the wait took quite a long time; just under an hour. This clearly miffed Azarenka, the former WTA No. 1, who when speaking to the chair umpire about the power outage and stoppage in play could be seen mouthing the word "pathetic." Electronic line calls should be quicker and more accurate than having humans make the calls, but players will also be held hostage to any power outage.

Victoria Azarenka miffed by technology issue at the Miami Open

One could even imagine a tournament final being postponed a day or so if there was a major outage. In 2025, all ATP tournaments, except the French Open because the Grand Slam chose not to have electronic line calling as the event is played on clay, will do away with linespeople and go fully to being electronic. Again, there is nothing wrong with using technology as long as it is available to use.

The Azarenka and Putintseva match might be a sign that tournaments need to have a roving team or two of linespeople. That way if the power does go out, match play does not have to stop. Ultimately, having to stop play because there is no power in a match being played in broad daylight is, well...pathetic.

Read more from Lob and Smash

manual