Wimbledon judges line

Hawkeye has been a big part of the ATP/WTA Tours for more than a decade now. As a decision review system, the technology hasn’t been completely flawless. The graphic failed to display during a Federer challenge against Tomas Berdych in the 2018 Australian Open, as a recent example.

However, on the whole, Hawkeye is functioning well.  In 99% of cases, it produces a quick, accurate response when a player challenges a call. In fact, Hawkeye is helping to overturn a fairly significant number of incorrect decisions. Although this isn’t tracked officially, the best of the best tend to get around 30-40% of their calls correct. This amounts to a pretty large number of decisions overturned when you consider the number of professional matches in which the system is used.

This raises an interesting question. We know that line umpires aren’t right 100% of the time – this is why Hawkeye exists. So why don’t we replace them with robots entirely?

Proponents of this move would have a pretty strong case: in theory, it would be impossible for an incorrect line call to be made. Tennis is quite different to a lot of other sports, in that so many decisions could technically be made without human judgment. While a robot can’t call a foul in soccer or basketball, it can tell where a ball has bounced and call it in or out.

Here are a few reasons why the ITF won’t replace line umpires with robots – not yet at least.

The speed of the decision

While Hawkeye currently tracks every single movement of the ball on the court, it does not make a decision unless it is told to.

Implementing the technology as a replacement for line umpires would require that it could make a judgment about every single ball, and display the decision in real-time. Currently, the technology isn’t quick enough to do this.

Of course, we could just wait for the system to process the data, and get a call a couple of seconds late. However, this would be a nightmare for players. Imagining having to continue playing while thinking to yourself “I’m sure that was out – Hawkeye will call it in a few seconds”.

At present, only human line umpires can keep up with the speed of the game. There’s no reason that this won’t change within the next decade, though.

The accuracy of the decision

The truth is, no-one knows how accurate Hawkeye actually is.

The average error of the system is 3.6mm, according to Hawkeye. However, researchers from Cardiff University found that the system could potentially be much less accurate. Hawkeye disputes their findings, but will not release any further information about the mathematics behind the decision-making process.

Even assuming that Hawkeye is right about the average error, the lack of transparency about how it works could leave a sour taste for many tennis fans. If the system were to replace line umpires altogether, the tennis community would need to know more about how Hawkeye works, and how accurate it actually is.

Plus, the system still isn’t accurate on clay, making it unusable for about a third of the ATP/WTA Pro Tours.

What if it breaks?

As the Federer/Berdych example showed, Hawkeye is going to break down sometimes. Berdych was also involved in an incident at the Australian Open in 2009, but this time on the receiving end. Hawkeye didn’t work when he challenged a call, supposedly due to a shadow making its way across the court.

If Hawkeye were to completely break down, and there weren’t any line umpires on hand, what would happen?

Because the system isn’t perfect, there would need to be some backup officials available. But if they came in and then proceeded to make a questionable call that could not be challenged, the player is going to feel quite hard done by.

Cost

Currently, Hawkeye costs around $70,000 per court to install. When compared to the cost of hiring line umpires, this might seem pretty reasonable. However, it’s important to remember that these systems also need constant maintenance and calibration to ensure they’re working correctly.

The cost of setting up a Hawkeye system will come down over time. However, the cost to use them to completely replace line umpires doesn’t yet make sense.

The future

The answer to the question “could the ITF replace line umpires with robots?” at the moment is probably no. The technology isn’t good enough as of yet to completely replace line umpires.

However, Hawkeye is always evolving. Within the next few decades, the system may reach a point where it makes economic and logical sense to stop using line umpires, at least in major tournaments.

The one thing that won’t change though is the concern that relying exclusively on Hawkeye will make the game too sterile. For many, the system we have right now achieves a nice balance between keeping the human element in the game, while eliminating a decent amount of incorrect calls.

Thanks to https://liftyourgame.net/

Photo credit: Kate Tann

Boris Becker at the 1989 US Open

Two months after their wins at Wimbledon, Steffi Graf and Boris Becker, who know each other since childhood captured the US Open crown.

From The Bud Collins History of tennis:

Becker and Graf had been raised in nearby towns in the southeastern corner of West Germany and had known each other since they were children.

“I used to be the worst in the boys and she was the best in the girls,” Becker recalled with good humor. “So, when I was maybe nine and she was eight, I would have to hit with her.”

Each had to grown up to be a Wimbledon champion but not in the same year. In 1989, on the All England Club, they became the Teutonic Twosome. Even the weather cooperated, in a fashion. Rain pushed back the women’s final one day so that Graf and Becker might receive their awards at Centre Court on the same afternoon.

Graf and Becker each left Flushing Meadow with another major title. They had to work harder than at Wimbledon, and they had to share the spotlight with a departing champion.
Graf was severely tested twice, by Sabatini in the semifinals, 3-6 6-4 6-2, and, once again by Navratilova in the ultimate match. Navratilova appeared to have the final won on at least a couple of occasions. She was only two games from victory in the second set – confidently, prematurely waving two fingers at friends in the stands – before double-faulting away a service game. Then she had a break point for a 5-4 lead and squandered that. Seeing the opening, Graf mobilized her gifts and won, 3-6 7-5 6-1.

“I was so close,” said Navratilova, her face streaked with tears. “I was as close as you get.”

Becker almost didn’t make it out of the second round, where he faced two match points against vagabond Derrick Rostagno in a fourth-set tiebreaker. On the second, his running forehand ticked the net and hopped over the Californian’s waiting racket. Becker took that bit of luck and won the next two points for the set, and the arduous match that had looked lost long before, 1-6 6-7 6-3 7-6 6-3.

Connors‘ 16th trip to the quarters was unrewarded as Agassi made a surprising charge to score his own first victory in a five-set trial 6-1 4-6 0-6 6-3 6-4. Jimmy, with the crowd straining behind him, gave them hope as Andre served for it at 5-2. Flashing the old moxie, the champ seized nine of 10 points to 5-4 0-15 – but had nothing more to give. McEnroe, seeded fourth, didn’t get that far, banished from the second round by a qualifier, number 110 Paul Haarhuis 6-4 4-6 6-3 7-5. “Where are you from?” a reporter asked the anonymous Dutchman. “Mars”, was the smiling reply, and Mac may have believed it.
Defending champ Wilander, fifth-seeded, undoubtedly wondered about the provenance of his kid conqueror, 5-7 6-3 1-6 6-1 6-4, also in the second round. The 18-year-old’s name was Pete Sampras, who in 12 months would illuminate the Meadow, and continue to do so, passing Mac and Wilander, Connors and others in the matter of majors – eventually holding the record himself at 14.

Lendl took care of Agassi in one semi, 7-6 6-1 3-6 6-1, and Becker cruised past Aaron Krickstein in the other, 6-4 6-3 6-4. In the final, Becker needed three hours and 51 minutes to defeat Lendl, 7-6 1-6 6-3 7-6.
Ivan was appearing in his eighth consecutive final, a Tilden-tying achievement. But after Becker got a full head of serving-and-volleying steam, neither Ivan nor the ghost of Big Bill could stop him. “He just has more power in his game than I do.” Lendl said. For Becker, the victory proved he was more than splendor in the grass, that he was able to be a world-class field somewhere other than Wimbledon. He had filled in the gaps in his game since the summer of ’85, firmed his groundstrokes along with his tenacity. Now he was a worthy challenger for the honor of top-ranked men’s player on the planet.

“If I’m not number one,” he said, “then I’m quite close to it.”

Read more:
The tennis birthplace of the Deutschland duo

Alison Riske and Ashleigh Barty, Wimbledon 2019

All fourth round matches are traditionally played on the second Monday of the tournament, called Manic Monday. And as often in the women’s draw, upsets followed upsets as the three highest seeds left lost.

First, world number one Ashleigh Barty fell to Alison Riske. The unseeded American who’s enjoying a superb grass court season (wins in Surbiton and ‘S-Hertogenbosch) rallied from a set down to win 3-6 6-2 6-3. Barty had won her last 15 matches.

Then, Karolina Pliskova, winner in Eastbourne, lost to Karolina Muchova after a marathon match 6-4 5-7 11-13.

And finally, Johanna Konta prevailed over two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 4-6 6-2 6-4. She will face Barbora Strycova for a place in the semi-finals.

Simona Halep who ended Cori Gauff’s fantastic run in straight sets will face Shuai Zhang who had never won a match in her previous 5 appearances in London. This year she defeated Caroline Garcia and Caroline Wozniacki on her way to the quarter-finals.

Elina Svitolina and Serena Williams made a quick work of Petra Martic and Carla Suarez Navarro.

Ladies quarter-finals:
Alison Riske vs Serena Williams (11)
Barbora Strycova vs Johanna Konta (19)
Elina Svitolina (8) vs Karolina Muchova
Simona Halep (7) vs Shuai Zhang

Djokovic and Nadal made their way to the quarters dispatching Ugo Humbert and Joao Sousa respectively.
No problem either for Federer who ousted Matteo Berrettini, recent winner in Stuttgart, 6-1 6-2 6-2.

Kei Nishikori booked his place in the last eight with a four-set win over Kukushkin 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Mens quarter-finals:
Novak Djokovic (1) vs David Goffin (21)
Guillermo Pella (26) vs Roberto Bautista Agut (23)
Sam Querrey vs Rafael Nadal (3)
Kei Nishikori (8) vs Roger Federer (2)

More to follow…

Ugo Humbert, Wimbledon 2019

He had never won a grass-court match before the first round of Antalya two weeks ago. Today Ugo Humbert dispatched Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4 7-5 6-3 to seal a Wimbledon fourth round spot. Next stop? Novak Djokovic.

“It’s a dream. It’s maybe the best match of my career, for sure,” Humbert said. “I would like to enjoy this night, this victory, and I will prepare my match against Djokovic with my coach.”

Another Frenchman is through to the fourth round: Benoît Paire who defeated Jiri Vesely in fourth sets. He’ll next face Roberto Bautista Agust who sent number 10 seed Karen Khachanov packing.

Two French players will huge tasks in the third round: Lucas Pouille and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will meet Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal respectively.

Fabio Fognini, Wimbledon 2019

Fabio’s outfit is now available on Emporio Armani’s website: