Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 2 of the 2021 Australian Open.
It’s likely that Novak Djokovic is happiest about the news.
This year at the Australian Open, there will be no line judges on any of the event’s courts and all line calls will be made electronically and live. Fans and players will hear the calls of «Out» or «Fault,» but these will be calls made from pre-recorded voices.
The decision was made in part to limit the number of people on tennis courts at the same time since we are living in a pandemic. (Whether it’s right to host an event of the magnitude of the Australian Open was beside the point, I guess.) It will be the very first Grand Slam to have live electronic line calling on all courts, but likely not the last. Presumably Djokovic, who was ejected from the US Open last summer when he hit a line judge with a ball, is very happy about this switch.
With this new system, tournament director Craig Tiley expects fewer challenges of line calls by players. How so? Well the advantage seems to be in the fact that automatically, all close-calls will be shown and replayed on the big screens for point-ending shots. That’s potentially a very good thing, especially for Roger Federer, whose relationship with player challenges has always been strained at best.
Where we foresee some potential problems is that chair umpires will now have the leeway to decide whether or not to replay and review point-ending shots that were not reviewed automatically but which one of the players wants to be reviewed. While we have nothing against chair umpires specifically, judgement calls are such that by definition, they are bound to leave someone unsatisfied.
In any case, here’s your day 2 preview for the Australian Open.
John Cain Arena: Coco Gauff vs Jil Teichmann (Second match of the day)
By all means this should be an easy and fairly straightforward win for American Coco Gauff. Still only 16 years old, Gauff exudes potential and promise; her job over the next few years merely resides in building on what she has already accomplished and turning into concrete results what remains fairly abstract.
So far in her insanely young career, Gauff has still only lost once in the first round of a Grand Slam. She might not have done better than a fourth round (twice, at the 2019 Wimbledon and the 2020 Australian Open) but having done so at her age is impressive enough.
Margaret Court Arena: Vasek Pospisil vs Daniil Medvedev  (Third match of the day)
Daniil Medvedev has banged on the door of the very top of the men’s game for a few years now; is this the time that he gets it wide open? Guiding his Russian team to the ATP Cup title last week was certainly a nice step in the right direction and the Russian should be as dangerous as anyone else in Melbourne over the next two weeks.
You’ll notice that none of the above mentions Vasek Pospisil, Medvedev’s first round opponent here. While we love the Canadian, he’s not at the same level.
Rod Laver Arena: Danka Kovinic vs Ashleigh Barty  (First match of the evening)
While World No. 1 player Ashleigh Barty went almost a full year without playing competitive tennis, she did come back in style to the WTA, capturing the Yarra Valley Classic title with a win against Garbine Muguruza over the weekend.
It’s easy to forget just how dominant Barty had been before the pandemic halted play in March 2020; after winning three major events, including the French Open and the WTA Finals, and making another four semifinals, the Aussie was poised to assert her will on the women’s game before it all came to a drastic halt.
It’s up to her to prove to us this was all merely delayed.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG