(Recasts with quotes)
By Martyn Herman
PARIS, June 1 (Reuters) - Umpires clambering off their chairs to inspect ball marks in the clay is a common sight at Roland Garros but champion Maria Sharapova believes it is time technology took over after a rough call in her win on Saturday.
Sharapova slipped 4-1 down in the second set against tenacious Chinese Zheng Jie before going through 6-1 7-5 to set up a French Open last-16 clash with American Sloane Stephens.
Serving at 3-1 down in the second set the second seed’s second delivery was called out. The umpire checked the mark at her insistence and confirmed the call although television replays suggested the Russian’s suspicions were justified.
“First of all it’s not even about the fact of the call, whether it was in or out,” Sharapova told reporters.
”I think for me it was the fact the umpire did not recognise the mark he pointed out was about a foot away from the actual mark. That’s a huge question mark to begin with.
”All the other grand slams have Hawk-Eye and I know these types of situations happen although much more rarely on the clay. Why not? Why don’t we have a system like this?
“I mean, is it a money concern? I don’t think so. This is just absolute proof that it’s a big point and it can happen in any situation,” said Sharapova.
The other three grand slams, two played on hardcourts and one on grass at Wimbledon, allow players to have three unsuccessful Hawk-Eye challenges each set and the system is popular with players and fans.
Sharapova, playing for the third day in succession after needing two days to complete her second-round match because of rain, was forced into a scrap after initially looking a class above her 43rd-ranked opponent.
She trailed 4-1 in the second set, clawed back to 4-4 and then fell 5-4 behind.
Zheng served to level the match but Sharapova turned up the volume of her grunting and her play to avoid being extended further.
“Down 4-1 is not a score I want but I am happy with the way I fought back and I found a way to win that second set without having to go into a third,” the 26-year-old said. (Editing by Tony Jimenez)