Nottingham Open: why did Emma Raducanu criticise the umpire?

Emma Raducanu at the Nottingham Open
Emma Raducanu at the Nottingham Open Credit: David Davies/PA Wire (l), /Mark Kielesz-Levine (r)

It is the week where the great and good of the tennis world descend on Nottingham - for those that compete it's the first foray of the season on the grass.

In essence, the preparation for Wimbledon starts here. Other grass tournaments taking place at the same time include one in Stuttgart while the Birmingham Classic, a women's tournament, follows after.

There's been some big winners here over the years and the British talent has done well.

Dan Evans at the Nottingham Open Credit: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Andy Murray and Leicestershire's British No. 1 Katie Boulter won the men's and women's tournament last year respectively, while Birmingham's Dan Evans has also won it twice.

Emma Raducanu, arguably the biggest name in British tennis right now, has also played here.

The £50,000 player's "bet"

And yet this year, one of the main topics of discussion is not the actual tennis but instead umpire and line calls.

In the battle of the Brits on Monday, Harriet Dart was clearly furious with calls that went against her in her match against Boulter.

One Chair Umpire call in particular went against a Line Umpire, causing Dart to tell the Chair Umpire that she was 'embarrassing herself'.

The heated argument continued during a break where Dart "bet" £50,000 that the umpire in question was wrong.

Still annoyed post-match, in her press conference she said the line calling was 'pretty appalling'.

Observers may have felt that this was an isolated incident - a heat of the moment reaction to some controversy in a British No 1 vs British No 2 encounter - but the issue is still being spoken about.

Nottingham Open Credit: ITV News Central

Emma Raducanu is the latest to comment, saying openly how she felt she was playing against "two opponents".

Fran Jones, another Brit who went through to the second round, took issue with a call that went against her while she was on match point.

It's important to note that players of course know what tournaments like this offer and even with hawkeye technology, tensions and arguments flare, especially with big points on the line.

But umpire calls are becoming the talking point of the week.

So what's going on?

Well, unlike Wimbledon and other tournaments, Nottingham does not have electronic technology but it's clear that some players want it across the game.

Without going into specifics, in tennis you have Grand Slams, like Wimbledon and the US Open and then below that you have smaller tournaments ranked in terms of importance.

While Nottingham is crucial for some players in terms of points, it is not one of the top tournaments outside of the Grand Slams and putting in technology would also obviously cost money.

In a statement the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) said:

"In line with many other events at WTA250 level we use Line Umpires. Line Umpires are an important part of national and international tournaments in Britain and we have a highly trained workforce.

"Along with the rest of tour events we will be moving to electronic line calling for ATP Tour-Level events in 2025. This continues to be a topic that we discuss with the WTA at our tournament meetings".

This means that for the women's game at this level, Line Umpires remain important but that in the upper section of the Men's tour in Britain, technology will be introduced.

However, this means that technology for the men won't be brought in at this level here in Nottingham, but the Women's organisation body, the WTA is talking about it.

Could we then have a situation where technology is used for women but not men in Nottingham ? It's not as yet clear but maybe that's unlikely.

However, there's certainly a lot of pride in Nottingham about attracting some of the game's best players - could there be a fear that they will choose to start their grass preparation elsewhere if they feel that they don't get the rub of the green here?

Not according to former British No.1 and Tournament Director Laura Robson who I spoke to about this.

"I would not say that people are put off"

She feels that the incidents we've seen this week are entirely normal for an event without technology and that it hasn't really been a talking point, adding that umpires were doing an amazing job.

However, she did acknowledge both sides of the argument, telling me that she probably had some words with umpires over the years and at times was frustrated.

For her, this week and comments made by players need to be put into context.

Emma Raducanu at the Nottingham Open Credit: David Davies/PA Wire

She has since seen and spoken to Emma Raducanu and there's no issue and that all this is all part and parcel of competitive tennis.

But when British players talk openly about issues at home tournaments, it will make headlines.

Unless there's a radical change however, technology won't be introduced in Nottingham and the hope will be that the talking point over the next few days will instead be about British success.