2012 — is wellknown for his fiery disputes with tennis officials. McEnroe, who turns 59 Friday, often used his on-court outbursts as motivation en route to winning seven Grand Slam singles titles, nine major doubles titles and 149 tournaments overall during his Hall of Fame career. But sometimes — such as the 1990 Australian Open, when McEnroe was disqualified for not remembering how many warnings it took to get tossed — temper tantrums derailed his quest for titles.
“Sometimes I thought I was justified; other times perhaps I was reaching for straws,’’ McEnroe said. “I don’t know, whatever way you want to look at it, to me, I built up this ‘Well, they’re going to screw me’ type of attitude, and ‘I can’t trust them.’ ’’
McEnroe, who also plays on Jim Courier’s PowerShares senior circuit where retired ATP Tour players call their own lines, was asked if his career would’ve been bet- ter or worse if the human element was taken out of line-calling.
“I believe I would’ve been secure in knowing that I’d get an opportunity to get another look at (a potential) tournament-winning or losing call in certain cases,’’ said McEnroe. “There’s only a handful of calls in a match where the players aren’t really sure whether it’s in or out, or the umpire or linesmen had made an honest mistake.
“I feel like I would’ve been 15 or 20 percent probably better player, but I would’ve been more boring and maybe I wouldn’t be talking to you now or maybe I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I had with commentary or (to) do some other things in my life.’’
The only other ATP event to rely strictly on electronic line-calling, along with a chair umpire to oversee the match, was the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals con- tested between 21-and-un- der stars last November in Milan. While the ATP used that as a trial run for possi- bly eliminating line judges in the future, the Hawk-EyeLive experiment in Delray Beach was suggested by tourna- ment founder/director Mark Baron and approved by the Champions Tour.
“If there’s a technology that makes officiating better, we owe it to them to try it,” Gayle Bradshaw, ATP Execu- tive Vice President of Rules and Competition, said last November. “The tour will have to take a look at the atmosphere. Does it make it too sterile? Does it take away from the game or add something to the game? If this is able to do the job and with accuracy, and it ends up as a cost saving to the tournaments, it would be hard to keep it out of the game.”
Jack Sock, 25, the defending champion and top seed at the Delray Beach Open, wasn’t ready to recommend or reject the elimination of line judges. “It would obviously take out some of the questioning sometimes and any arguments some players have with refs,’’ Sock said, but “there would definitely have to be a trial period and a majority (of players would have to) like it. I don’t think it can be an overnight thing.’’
A chair umpire would still be needed to have the final word on unusual calls such as foot faults, double-bounces, whether a player illegally touches the net on his follow-through, or if a ball grazes a player or any part of his clothing.