US Open set to introduce electronic replays to help line-calling
January 26, 2005
MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) - The US Open is set to become the first grand slam tennis tournament to introduce computer-generated video replays to help umpires rule on contentious line-calls, officials said.
A United States Tennis Association (USTA) spokesman said the body was "very bullish" about providing umpires with electronic replay aids at the 2005 championships following the uproar at last year's tournament.
The controversial quarter-final between Jennifer Capriati
and Serena Williams
was marred by a series of rulings against Williams that replays later showed were wrong.
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Capriati advanced but US Open officials removed umpire Mariana Alves before later apologising to Williams for the blunders. Now USTA officials are anxious to avoid any chance of a repeat by making use of advances in technology.
"We are bullish in our desire to have some form of electronic line-calling technology in use at the 2005 US Open," USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier told AFP.
"The Jennifer Capriati-Serena Williams match really brought the desire to provide technological aids to officials to the forefront."
Widmaier said a special task force had been formed to look at the various options, emphasising that no decisions had been taken yet.
Various technologies were available, with the 3D 'Hawkeye' and 'Auto-Ref' systems already used with success by television broadcasters among the options.
"We are taking a look at all the existing systems," said Widmaier. "There are two main issues we need to determine -- which will be the most accurate and the most consistent?
"I can say that Auto-Ref is accurate to within three or four millimetres. That means it's accurate to the fuzz of the ball," Widmaier said.
"But we've got to look at how the system performs under all conditions -- different light, heat, shadows on the court."
US officials would test any chosen system behind the scenes, possibly at a Davis Cup match later this year.
The USTA would also like to have the system ready in time for the start of the American hardcourt season in July leading into the US Open.
Widmaier said the USTA was working closely with the International Tennis Federation along with the WTA and ATP Tours.
How the system would work was also yet to be decided, he added. "It could be a player challenge system, where a player gets the right to have one or two challenges per set. There's a lot of possibilities," he added.
The US move to make use of technology has won the backing of the ITF rules committee chairman Geoff Pollard, who confirmed that the sport's governing body was trialling the Hawkeye and Auto-Ref systems.
"From what we've seen, we are pretty confident they will meet the standards of accuracy we would require," Pollard told The Age newspaper. "The problem is deciding how to use it."
The issue of technology divided stars at the Australian Open on Wednesday following the women's quarter-finals.
World number one Lindsay Davenport
, speaking after her 6-4, 4-6, 9-7 victory over Australia's 10th seed Alicia Molik
said she was against using technology unless it could be used everywhere.
"I've always been against electronic line calling," Davenport said. "But obviously technology is evolving. If we can figure out a way where it worked for everybody ... But for now, I kind of stick to the linesmen."
Molik, meanwhile, gave a qualified approval to electronic replays as long as it didn't disrupt play.
"I think to a certain degree it may help," she said. "But at the same time, on the flip side, it may hold up play. "It means you've got to go back, you've got to see the replay, you've got to have a few judges look at it. "Tennis is a very flowing game, so I think to a certain extent it would disrupt players' routines and affect the timing of the way matches run."