Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hawk-eye use at the Australian Open

The Australian Open just started, kicking off the first of Tennis' Grand Slam tournaments for 2007. It is also the second Grand Slam tournament to use Hawk-eye replay/challenge technology (something I talked about in a blog posting a few months ago, Technology in Tennis: Hawk-eye), after its first use at the 2006 US Open, along with other US Open Series tournaments.

Since the US Open is unique in that it actually uses a tiebreaker in the final set of play (i.e. the 3rd set of a best of three sets match, or the 5th set of a best of five sets match), the rules for using the Hawk-eye replay/challenge system in the final set of matches had to be modified for the Australian Open and presumably other Grand Slam tournaments, should they choose to use Hawk-eye. Once the score is six games all in the final set, the "challenge counter" will reset so that the players have another two challenges each for the next six games regardless of any of their previous queries. I haven't heard anything about the French Open or Wimbledon using Hawk-eye, so it'd be interesting to know if Hawk-eye operations is technically possible on their surfaces, and whether the go-ahead would be given for its use.

It is too bad that Hawk-eye is only available on the main stadium at the Australian Open (Rod Laver Arena). It is not available on the second stadium court (Vodafone Arena). This is unlike the US Open which had the Hawk-eye system in place at both Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong stadiums. I wonder why the second stadium court doesn't have Hawk-eye. Is it a matter of money? Or perhaps they don't have the video screens inside the stadium? It'd be interesting to find out the answer to this.

You can see summary statistics on the player challenge system by visiting the Australian Open's Video Line Calling web page. Who will have the highest percentage of successful challenges at the end of this Australian Open?

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Anonymous said...

Just a reminder, you don't really need Hawkeye on a clay court, since the ball marks the clay. However, you can challenge innumerable times on clay, which is an interesting difference for the surface. It takes longer to check the mark on clay than review it on screen!

Jason said...

Hi Anonymous

You're right about the ball markings on the clay (I'll be honest, I didn't think about that factor).

But look at it from another perspective.. Would fans rather see a chair ump run to the spot to inspect the mark, or would they rather see a nice computer generated screen (think in-stadium crowd or television audience).

That's the angle I was trying to get at when I posed the question. Could Hawk-eye work on clay or grass surfaces as effectively compared to hard court or Rebound-Ace surfaces or are there technical issues preventing it from working?

Beyond that, would Roland Garros or Wimbledon allow it (something tells me the latter won't).