US Open officials alter protocols to inform fans

NEW YORK -- US Open officials have made some changes in the officiating protocols for the upcoming US Open in an attempt to better inform fans about decisions made on court -- a review stimulated partly by the officiating controversy that marred the US Open women's final last year.

The most noteworthy change is that when the chair umpire issues a code violation, the reason ("unsportsmanlike conduct," or "racket abuse") will now appear on the scoreboard for fans to absorb on every court.

"(It's) just to make the fans more aware of what's going on," Jake Garner, chief umpire, said on Friday at the National Tennis Center. "How it will look on each court will be slightly different based on the scoreboard used there."

Among the other changes: Tournament will also make officials available more quickly and readily in the event the media wishes to speak with them, tighter control of the time it takes for players to arrive, warm-up, and begin their matches, and a tweak of the rules governing the 25-second time (shot) clock -- which also will be visible on every court.

The officials also explained the rationale behind the decision to guarantee that Carlos Ramos, the chair umpire for last year's women's final, would not be assigned any match involving either Venus or Serena Williams. They reiterated that the decision was not driven by the players themselves.

"The request has not come in (from the Williams' camp)," said Stacey Allaster, the USTA's Chief Executive of Professional Tennis. "This is our collective decision. We want to focus on the competition."