We wrote yesterday about Pascal Maria, the French chair umpire who officiated at the 2008 Wimbledon final. We ran into The Greatest Umpire In Tennis History again at the all-French Gael Monfis-Jeremy Chardy match on the Grandstand. This isn’t as much of a coincidence as it might seem: as Jon Wertheim writes in Strokes of Genius, “If…the players are from the same country, it’s entirely possible–likely, even–that the chair umpire will also be a compatriot.”
We were a bit surprised, though, that when Monfils was getting ready to serve, the normally placid Maria suddenly came down off his chair, walked across the court, and broadly gestured to the courtside photographers to move back. Monique Nixon, in from Chicago, was next to us, and shocked: “I’ve never seen an umpire like him. He seems very controlling, like everything has to be to his liking.”
Maria will be back on the Grandstand later today for Victoria Azarenka’s match, when we’ll bring you more of Pascalwatch 2009.