Umpire chair technology and miserable heat at the Australian Open

Umpire chair technology and miserable heat at the Australian Open

There were two storylines that caught my attention this first week of the Australian Open:

  1. The unbearable heat

  2. The new mechanical umpire chair


While watching Monfils vs. Djokovic, and Vekic vs. Kerber, it was reported that temperatures reached 150 on court – and it showed. All four players were in obvious distress. However, in both matches one player handled the heat better than the other. Kerber and Djokovic, although obviously feeling the conditions, seemed more functional in the execution of their game. Meanwhile, Monfils and Vekic, were literally “hot messes.”


By the middle of the second set, Monfils started complaining numerous times about dizziness and his fear of passing out in the conditions. It’s too bad because he was playing some dazzling tennis for the first set and a half. Vekic, although not looking as distressed as Monfils, took numerous bathroom breaks, and was spraying forehands and backhands all over the court. I’m in favor of closing the roof in these situations. Everyone loses when the players are not given the conditions to play at their 100%.


A mechanical referee chair?


This year the Australian Open seems to have introduced an “auto lift” referee chair. As if it were exhausting enough for referees to climb two steps onto their chair, now they simply sit on the chair, press a button and the chair automatically lifts into position. Novak Djokovic, the fun-loving guy that he is, decided to give the new chair a try. Unfortunately for him, he got stuck for about three minutes. Maybe there’s a future for him in refereeing. I’d rather see him on the court winning a few more grand slams though.



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