Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hawk-eye issues at the Australian Open

During the past two weeks of play at the Australian Open, the Hawkeye system, which I have blogged about in the past, has been used for player challenges of line calls in both of the main arenas, Rod Laver Arena and Vodafone Arena. However, being an optical based technology, lighting conditions can throw off the system, and this happened to occur at Vodafone Arena, where the line calling device was being used for the first time in 2008 (the system was only available in Rod Laver Arena in 2007).

It was discovered at Vodafone Arena that there was a period of 30 to 45 minutes when there is a large shadow that goes across the entire court when the roof is open. This shadow happened to disrupt the Hawkeye challenge system to a point where it cannot be guaranteeed the minimum accuracy requirements that the system is required to have. It was discovered that the nature and darkness of the shadow, coupled with the height of the roof at this arena that were contributing factors to this issue.

Once this issue was discovered, it was announced that the Hawkeye system would not be available during the time the system was affected. Tournament director, Craig Tiley, said the following:

"In light of the fact that Hawkeye cannot guarantee 100 percent accuracy, 100 percent of the time, we will not use the Hawkeye system during this time, at the Vodafone Arena. The players will be informed when Hawkeye is not working."

Some players were unnerved by this development. Australian Peter Luczak said he noticed some problems during his second-round loss to David Nalbandian at Vodafone on Thursday.

"He (Nalbandian) was getting a little bit frustrated because the Hawkeye wasn't in play for some reason. It doesn't work when the shadow is halfway across the court."

Ana Ivanovic of Serbia was affected by it during her first-round win over Sonara Cirstea.

"It's not unreasonable to expect that the technology works properly. When it breaks down it throws your concentration. My opponent was causing me enough problems without me worrying whether the device is working properly."

Hopefully, this issue will be resolved for future events.

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