PARIS (AP) — There’s a bit of choreography on clay whenever a player disagrees with a line call at the French Open.
The ball lands. The aggrieved player winces and squints at the spot, then scrapes the clay with a racket to underline the mark. The player stands in place, hands on hips, waiting. The chair umpire clambers down to the court, speed-walks over to locate the mark, thinks about it, then renders judgment — by holding an index finger aloft to indicate “Out” or holding a palm flat to indicate “In.” Sometimes, an argument ensues.
Happens every match, it seems. More than once, usually. The whole dance can take mere seconds. Or last several minutes. Or change the complexion of a match entirely, such Martina Hingis’ infamous meltdown against Steffi Graf in the 1999 French Open final, 20 years ago Wednesday.
It’s unique in Grand Slam tennis to Roland Garros, because the other three major tournaments use the Hawk-Eye review system during matches, the way most sports have embraced this sort of thing. The thinking goes: Unlike on the hard courts at the U.S. Open and Australian Open, or the grass courts at Wimbledon, balls leave an indelible imprint on the red dirt, so…