TENNIS US OPEN – 7th of September 2014. B. Bryan/M. Bryan d. M. Granollers/M. Lopez 6-3, 6-4. An interview with Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan
Q. What are your feelings hitting 100? Sum it up for us.
BOB BRYAN: Yeah, I mean, it’s amazing relief, you know, ecstacy. You know, I was having flashbacks to my whole career towards the end of that match. It was wild. I was thinking juniors, college. It was an incredible moment. I was trying to stay in the moment, but it was impossible. I mean, this number right here, we have really been looking at for a couple of years. Greg wrote that story three months ago when we hit 98. I told him, Just hold off. We’re not even to 99. He burned us for a few months. (Smiling.) But, you know, there are so many things that go along with this US Open title. We were really just trying to win the title. Then you got the 100, the ten years with the slam, first slam of the year. Yeah, our fifth Open, there is no words to describe it.
Q. Better than you imagined it?
BOB BRYAN: Yeah.
MIKE BRYAN: Yeah, it’s always sweet winning a Grand Slam. This just adds some extra whip cream and cherries and nuts on top. To win a slam for the 10th consecutive year, that was kind of in the back of our heads, too. I mean, it was just great. We went out there and played a good match. We do get nervous. I think it was something like our 27th Grand Slam final. It feels like it was our first. You know, we were jittery. Tough to eat, tough to sleep. You know, but we kind of rose above it. I thought it was kind of our best match of the tournament against a really tough team that posed a lot of challenges. I think it helped having two days off to practice for that specific team, because they play like no other team out there. They are so close to the net. They have great groundstrokes. We had some good strategies to counteract that. Yeah, as Bob said, it was kind of like ecstacy. Right when the match finished it was a relief. So much emotions. I don’t think we have ever done this kind of dirty dancing swan dive. That was a first. (Laughter.)
BOB BRYAN: You felt light as a feather. (Laughter.)
MIKE BRYAN: Yeah.
Q. Was that dirty dancing move a miscommunicated…
MIKE BRYAN: Yeah, it was a miscommunicated chest bump. I went for it; Bob didn’t lift off.
BOB BRYAN: It gets ugly sometimes.
MIKE BRYAN: I remember Charleston. We won a big Davis Cup match. We both went in for the hug in the air. That doesn’t work out. Dangerous. So dangerous if you hug in the air and you have to come down together. Yeah, you never know. I mean, that just was a great feeling winning that match point, just getting over the finish line there.
BOB BRYAN: Hell, yeah, it was.
Q. It’s been quite a journey. Take us into the flashbacks.
BOB BRYAN: Hitting our first balls at the club, playing our first tournament at age six. Saw that. Yeah, I mean, Kalamazoo when we were — it’s all relative. We were just as Jacked to win Kalamazoo as we are here to get 100. You know, same thing with the NCAAs. I slept with that NCAA trophy in my bed for a night. To win that first slam, I remember flying over the English Channel to Queen’s, and I was most scared I have ever been that the plane was gonna crash. It’s like, We have done it, and now I’m going to go down in a ball of flames for some reason. I just want to enjoy this for a little bit.
MIKE BRYAN: There was some nasty turbulence.
BOB BRYAN: Incredible turbulence. Obviously the Davis Cup was — it’s been a really storybook career, and this is kind of a cap, you know, right on top. Just neat little bow on this career.
Q. What was the first one when you were six?
BOB BRYAN: Lake Lindero.
MIKE BRYAN: 1985, novice tournament. Met in the finals of the singles and won the doubles. Took home four trophies. I think we might have slept with that trophy, too.
BOB BRYAN: Hell, yeah. We did.
Q. Where are your parents today?
MIKE BRYAN: They were at home watching it. They don’t like to watch it live. They watch the scores tick. Sometimes they get too nervous. Like during our Wimbledon final they went on a drive to Santa Barbara an hour away. Drove up; drove back. Got home, checked the scores, and we lost.
BOB BRYAN: Once we start going later in the tournaments we start losing touch with people. We’re not calling our parents anymore. I haven’t really talked to them. Usually we’re FaceTiming with the kids and, you know, your mind just starts focusing on that prize, you know, and you don’t want to talk about too much stuff. So now after all this is released we’ll call them and really enjoy a nice conversation. I’ll see my dad at Davis Cup. But, yeah, you’re in that crazy focus mode.
MIKE BRYAN: For two weeks.
BOB BRYAN: For two weeks. Finally just get to laugh again.
MIKE BRYAN: Be a person again.
Q. So two things? Obviously this is an amazing symmetry to winning here. Do you believe in karma? Secondly, you have won so much and many places through all these years. You said a moment ago that Kalamazoo felt the same. Do qualities of wins of these feel different or not really?
MIKE BRYAN: I think we do believe in a little bit of karma, but sometimes there is no fairytale ending. Last year we were going for the slam. That would have been really nice. We have also lost 11 Grand Slam finals, which every one stings; four or five days Davis Cup matches. This one has been cool. I mean, it’s been kind of good karma to win the gold medal. And as Bob said, like Kalamazoo and US Open juniors and NCAAs, it just seems like we have hit every milestone and step along the way. So I don’t know. It does feel like we have good karma. We pick up trash when we see litter on the street.
BOB BRYAN: Try to sign every autograph, you know, and take pictures, selfies. You’re hoping that’s gonna add up to something.
Q. Do you ever just hit yourself and say, Is this for real? How do you maintain being who you are with the success that you have had? Because I want to applaud you on that. (Applause.)
MIKE BRYAN: Thank you.
BOB BRYAN: Yeah, I mean.
Q. So how do you do that?
BOB BRYAN: It feels great to be recognized and to achieve something great in a sport you have dedicated your life to. We have sacrificed everything since two, three years old; didn’t feel like we were sacrificing because we were having so much fun at a young age. As you mature and look back you say, Gee, I didn’t go to my high school program. I had one sip of alcohol pretty much my whole life. That’s unusual, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I mean, we got everything. I got three incredible trophies over there sitting over your right shoulder: Michelle, Micaela, and Bobby Junior. That puts a smile on my face every day. I think that also made it easier to play well in this incredible, huge moment knowing I already had that in my back pocket.
Q. And you share all this with Wayne and Kathy, of course. How special is that to have them be in the game with you?
MIKE BRYAN: Yeah, I mean, they are the two most supportive parents kids could ask for. We got really positive parents, and they are always with us in our toughest moments. We have said a million times before, when we lose our match we go check our e-mail right away. Our e-mails are already in there with everything we have done in our career, and he takes losses just as hard as we do. It’s pretty amazing. They are the first people we call after wins, and they have been with us every step of the way. Countless hours. My mom fed us a million balls. Dad took us to tournaments. Couldn’t have done it without them. We had a happy tennis family. We’re still closer now than we have ever been.
Q. I was talking to guys work with Team Bryan, and they emphasize how much you give back working with their kids and programs, as well. Where do you guys get the energy, and what’s your philosophy about giving so much back, which you continue to do even though you have won everything?
BOB BRYAN: Our dad instilled that in us, doing so many clinics, inspirational speeches, and we were always traveling around with him as kind of the show ponies. We do drills. You know, the Jensens were one of our big idols and they gave back more than anyone and signed every autograph. And then Agassi set a great example for all the young Americans to set up their foundations and raise money for good causes. As we get older, we’re really trying harder to raise more money and do good in this game. You know, you mature and you start to see the good you can do and the impact you can make on the youth. We’ll start shifting our focus more to the foundation as our career winds down. Yeah, our dad, the Jensens, Agassi, they are all great role models for that.
2020 Tokyo Olympics, Djokovic on the heat and the new scheduling: “I’m glad they listened to us”
Speaking to Ubitennis, the world number one describes the work that he, Medvedev and Zverev (among others) have done to obtain better playing conditions
So far, the tennis tournament at the 2020 Olympics has made headlines less for the match-play than for the difficult conditions in which it has been taking place due to the heat and the humidity. In the women’s draw, for instance, four players have been forced to retire during their matches: the last one has been particularly shocking, as Paula Badosa was taken off-court on a wheelchair after collapsing late in the first set of her quarter-final match against Marketa Vondrousova. Luckily, these issues appear to have finally caught the attention of the International Tennis Federation: starting tomorrow, no match will be played before 3pm (7am in the UK).
Part of the credit for this (still belated) decision goes to the lobbying and the complaints of the players, as world N.1 Novak Djokovic explained while speaking to Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta in Tokyo: “I’m glad the decision was made to reschedule tomorrow’s opening matches at 3pm. Today we went to speak to the supervisor – when I say ‘we’ I mean myself, Medvedev, and Zverev, along with the team captains. I have spoken to Khachanov and Carreno Busta as well, so the majority of the players who will feature in the quarter finals was of the same opinion.
“Of course I would have wished for this decision to be made a few days ago, but it’s still a good thing,” he added. “Nobody wants to witness incidents like the one that occurred to Badosa.
“The conditions are really brutal. Some people might think that we are just complaining, but all resistance sports (and tennis should be included among them) are taking place later in the day because the combination between the heat and the humidity is really terrible.”
He then concluded: “I’ve been a professional tennis player for almost 20 years and I’ve never experienced such hard conditions for so many consecutive days. It may have have happened once or twice in Miami or New York, but just for one day, whereas in Tokyo the situation is like this every day. I think that this decision will benefit the fans as well, because playing later allows us to play our best – these conditions were just draining for us.”
Article by Lorenzo Colle; translated by Tommaso Villa
Alex Corretja: “I’ll tell you who can win the gold medal if Djokovic doesn’t go to the Olympics”
The two-time French Open finalist, now working for Eurosport, makes his predictions for the 2020 Olympics
Former world N.2 Alex Corretja, the winner of the 1998 ATP Finals (then known as the ATP Tour World Championships) now works with Eurosport, and, while he won’t be in Tokyo, he will still cover the Olympic Games and provide match commentary in Spanish.
During a brief rendez-vous with Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta, Corretja made a prediction for the men’s singles event at the upcoming Olympic event, which at the moment is slated to feature billboard names such as Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini. Here’s their chat:
EXCLUSIVE: Wimbledon Says No To Replacing Line Umpires With Hawk-Eye, But Others Say Yes
Electronic line calling has become a regular feature in the world of tennis and is set to expand over the coming years. However, such a development will have big implications on the sports tradition, as well as on those working in it.
Wimbledon has always taken pride in its ability to combine tradition with modern technology. Players are required to wear all white, those invited to sit in the Royal Box must dress smartly, and hundreds of people congregate on the ‘Henman Hill’ to watch the play unfold every year. These traditions have made the tournament unique in the sporting world. However, given the growing presence of technology, one of said traditions is under threat.
The use of computer vision systems such as Hawk-Eye has revolutionised the sport in recent years, with more tournaments than ever turning to the technology. Using automated player tracking cameras and intelligent production software, officials can establish whether a ball is in or out with the use of a computer. Its margin of error is claimed to be in the region of 2.2mm but one study argues that the difference could be up to 10mm.
“Hawk-Eye’s goal is to implement our software wherever it is desired or required to ensure that sports are made fairer, safer and better informed by whatever means we can. In tennis, we develop our technologies to meet the needs of the likes of the ATP and WTA for them to use to serve their objectives, if that means we’re at every event, it means that we’re one-step closer to our goal,” a Hawk-Eye spokesperson told UbiTennis.
Ironically the COVID-19 pandemic has been an advantage for those working on such technology. With organisers eager to limit the number of people on court due to the virus, many have gone down this avenue. One of the most notable is the US Open, which used the software on the majority of their courts last year and will use it to replace line umpires in 2021. Meanwhile, this year’s Australian Open was the first major to be played without lines judges.
However, such technology doesn’t come cheap. The exact price is unclear with Hawk-Eye telling UbiTennis they are ‘unable to provide such information at this time.’ One academic paper by Dr Yu-Po Wong from Stanford University estimates the cost of a ‘professional system’ to be in the region of $60-$70,000.
“We are always evolving and developing our technologies to be as accessible as possible, and work with event organisers to support them in making it affordable for their events,” Hawk-Eye states.
“Our Electronic Line Calling System in tennis is a combination of robust software and hardware, and requires highly trained operators. As an example, we often generate revenue for events by opening up opportunities for sponsorship and fan engagement. Hawk-Eye is focused on making our technologies as efficient and streamlined as possible, while we continually work on pushing the boundaries of sports technology.”
The disappearance of lines judges
One of the biggest concerns some have about this technology is the risk it poses to those working at tournaments. Should more tournaments rely on Hawk-Eye or similar, it is inevitable that the traditional use of lines officials will disappear. The New York Times previously reported that the 2020 US Open slashed their number of judges from roughly 350 to less than 100 following a decision to use Hawk-Eye Live on 15 out of its 17 courts.
“Over the past 18 months, we’re proud to have contributed towards the safe and successful delivery of events which otherwise may not have gone ahead during the pandemic. As a technology provider it is never the intention that our creations “replace” or make anyone redundant- as a technology provider that isn’t within our power,” they outline.
Richard Ings was a top chair umpire from 1986 to 1993 before going on to become the director of officiating for the ATP Tour for four years (2001-2005). Like many others in the industry, his pathway into becoming a Tour umpire was via the experience of calling lines from the side of the court.
“I started out calling lines. First at smaller events and then in the finals of major events. I then started chair umpiring. First at smaller events then larger events and gaining my international qualification gold badge equivalent at 19. I was then hired by the MIPTC ad a professional salaried unite at 20,” he tells UbiTennis about his career. “Lines (calling) has been a critical and necessary step in an official’s career path. That’s gone now. Working up the tables to major pro events as a line umpire is now gone. All those major event line jobs have been taken away.”
Ings believes that, as the technology gets cheaper over time, these roles will even start to go at lower-level tournaments at some stage, something he describes as ‘sad’ and an ‘end of an era.’ However, he believes there are positives too.
“The game will still need chair umpires. They won’t need the core skills of calling lines. So line calling experience is not required in this new world. It’s sad, sure, and good people will lose their link with the game as officials. But the quality of line calling will go up. Accuracy and consistency will go up. And that’s what officiating is all about,” he points out.
So is it only a matter of time before every tournament will be switching to electronic line calling?
Wimbledon first tested Hawk-Eye back in 2004 before implementing it on their two premier courts three years later. Now it is currently used on Centre Court, as well as Courts 1, 2, 3, 12 and 18. Ten cameras are built around each of those courts: they capture 60 high-resolution images per second. At least five of those cameras cover every ball bounce. It is said that the Hawk-Eye Live team is made up of less than 30 people.
Whilst there is high praise, The All England Club tells UbiTennis they don’t intend to solely rely on the system just yet.
“Line umpires remain an important element of our officiating set-up at The Championships, and there are no plans to switch to electronic line-calling,” they said in a statement.
Wimbledon’s view is one which is also echoed by the WTA when it comes to the running of their tournaments, although they are monitoring the impact of electronic line calling on what they describe as the ‘tennis community.’
“The WTA supports the use of automated line calling in order to limit the number of personnel at tournaments that are operating during COVID-19, creating a safer landscape for players, staff and officials themselves to work in. The WTA will continue to support live electronic line calling where appropriate for the remainder of the 2021 season while monitoring its impact closely on the tennis community. Line officials are and continue to be an important and highly valued part of the WTA Tour,” the WTA outlined.
Hawk-Eye Live will be used throughout the upcoming US Open series. In May, the USTA, ATP and WTA confirmed the use of electronic line calling at the US Open, ATP Atlanta Open , ATP Citi Open, National Bank Open (ATP Toronto and WTA Montreal), ATP Western & Southern Open, WTA Cincinnati, ATP Winston-Salem Open and WTA Tennis in the Land.
As for the Lines Judges who will be affected, there appears to be no program in motion aimed at redeploying them to another area of the sport. Hawk-Eye says they have no comment on this matter because it is “not an element within our control.”
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