London: Tennis legend John McEnroe believes the sport should get rid of chair umpires to make the game more interesting and lively.
The former World No.1 made his stunning proposal while also recommending tie-breaks at four games all in the fifth and deciding set — rather than at 6-6 — in an effort to keep fans interested.
“There should be no umpires as well. That would maybe be a major innovation as well,” McEnroe was quoted as saying by The Tennis Podcast on Friday when asked what changes he would like to introduce.
“I’ll have to throw that in. That could excite things along with a tighter format, quicker format,” he said.
It’s not the first time that McEnroe has sought the ditching of umpires.
He spent a career butting heads with officials and often demanded umpires controlling his matches be removed.
But he first raised the subject of permanently losing umpires and lines people last year and now he’s continuing his crusade ahead of what shapes as another bumper summer of tennis in Australia.
The seven-time Grand Slam champion believes greater use of the challenge system, where players are currently allowed three unsuccessful challenges per set plus an additional one in a tiebreak — and having opponents umpire their own matches would really spice things up.
“So obviously there would be unlimited challenges and I think you’d see some little bloodbath between the two players,” McEnroe said.
“Or at least more of sort of this conflict that you saw back more in my day where the players seemed to be going at it more. It seems like to me they get along too well,” he said.
The 56-year-old believes earlier tie-breaks to decide matches are a must.
“In this day and age, people’s attention spans seem to be dwindling and the longer the match goes, it seems that it gets less compelling for too many people. I think it’s too good a sport to not to try to think of ways to interest the fans,” the 56-year-old American said.