US Open suffers gaffe with new VAR as technology fails during tense Murray match

Tennis’ new move into VAR got off to a bad start at the US Open on Tuesday as the technology failed. Corentin Moutet asked for a video review of a double-bounce call while facing Andy Murray in the first round. Although the moment was replayed for fans on the court and watching on TV, chair umpire Louise Azemar Engzell announced that the official technology wasn’t working, meaning she couldn’t change the call.

The US Open announced new video review technology for this year’s tournament, with the replays available on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, Grandstand, Court 17 and Court 5. And VAR had its first showing in tennis in the Grandstand court when Murray was serving for the match against Moutet.

The Brit was 15-30 down while serving at 5-3 in the third set when he was awarded the point from a double-bounce on the other side of the net. But world No 72 Moutet asked the umpire to review the footage to double-check whether the ball did indeed bounce twice before he managed to return it.

A video of the moment then started playing on a loop on the Grandstand court and on TV channels covering the match, showing the shot in slow-motion so viewers could also make up their minds on whether the ball bounced twice. But the umpire announced that the technology wasn’t working on the officials’ end.

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Moutet could be heard shouting over to his box in disbelief as he said: “They don’t have it. They do not have the replay. They do not have it.” Engzell then announced the news to the disappointed Grandstand crowd, confirming that the original call stood meaning that Murray got to 30-30 on his serve.

“Ladies and gentlemen, unfortunately the VR is not working. What you are watching on the TV up here comes from [the] TV so [the] original call stands, so not-up,” the umpire told the crowd. It means that she was unable to access an official replay of the moment on her iPad on the system – an issue the US Open will want to correct before the next player asks for a review.

Murray then won the next exchange to get himself to match point but Moutet refused to go away. The world No 37 finally closed out a 6-2 7-5 6-3 victory on his fourth match point, also saving a break point to stop the 24-year-old from finding a way back into the match.

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After the match, Murray said the replays shown on the court made it clear that the initial call was correct as he called on the tournament to fix the technology. The 2021 US Open champion said: “Yeah, so obviously I don’t know exactly how it’s supposed to work and who’s supposed to make the decision on it because it was quite clear from the second video that the ball had bounced twice.

“We watched it about 10 times. It clearly is not the umpire that’s making that decision. I don’t know how the technology works. But, yeah, it obviously didn’t go to plan in a pretty important moment of the match. So, yeah, it would be good if they could get that fixed.”

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