Nick Bolletieri: 'Most abominable, unfair calls in the history of tennis'

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The Independent Online

Serena Williams's quarter-final defeat to Jennifer Capriati on Tuesday evening came after the most abominable, unfair calls in the history of tennis. If anything positive at all can arise from this night of shame then I hope it is the introduction of a system of on-demand replays, albeit limited.

Serena Williams's quarter-final defeat to Jennifer Capriati on Tuesday evening came after the most abominable, unfair calls in the history of tennis. If anything positive at all can arise from this night of shame then I hope it is the introduction of a system of on-demand replays, albeit limited.

By my reckoning on Tuesday the chair umpire made at least five absolute stinkers, including three in the last game of a refereeing travesty that ended 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. The most appalling decision arrived in the opening game of the third set. The umpire overruled a backhand by Serena, calling it out despite the fact that it was clearly six to 10 inches inside the line. The line judge had ruled it good. Everyone in the stadium had ruled it good. The umpire, who was on the far side, overruled it. Why? I think we'll be asking that for a long time.

I've never seen anything like it, certainly not in a match of comparable importance. If I'd been working the line when that call was made I'd have walked straight to the chair and said: "Excuse me, Ms Umpire, how can you do this? I refuse to be part of this show any longer." And then I'd have walked.

So what's the solution? It's time that players had the chance to question calls which they believe, for whatever reason, to be dubious. They could do this with the help of video replays. There is clearly no way that every point can be subject to appeal. We'd be there all day for every match. What I suggest is that a player is allowed to query two calls per match, and that's it.

If a player queries a call and video evidence proves the player to be right, then they get a bonus call added. In other words, as long as a player is being proved right, they can keep on querying. But as soon as they query two decisions that prove them wrong, the replays are over.

The upshot of Serena's exit is that, in one sense, an era of Grand Slam-winning consistency by the Williams sisters is over. For the first time since 1998, both Serena and her sister Venus will end the year without any Grand Slam titles to their names.

So will it be Capriati's Open? I'm not sure about that, having tipped Lindsay Davenport from the start. But I think Jennifer will make the final by beating Elena Dementieva.

Aside from the Serena fiasco, the biggest talking point here is: "How on earth does Dementieva keep winning with such a pathetically soft serve?" We're talking 55mph, maybe 65mph. I think the reason is her opponents are flummoxed by its softness, hit it back easily and then get punished. Capriati's too cute for that.

Talking of cute, I think Tommy Haas, by changing the pace of his biting slice, might upset the resurgent Lleyton Hewitt in the men's quarters. And Andy Roddick will be too strong, athletic, fast and versatile for Joachim Johansson.

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