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

Lake Geneva

After Prague in 2017 and Chicago last year, the city of Geneva in Switzerland will host the third edition of the Laver Cup, from 20 to 22 September.
Check out our Geneva travel guide to know more about the city, and if you attend the event, please share your comments and stories:

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Karolina Pliskova, Zhengzhou Open

World number 2 Karolina Pliskova didn’t drop a set all week, defeating Polona Hercog, Sofia Kenin, Ajla Tomljanovic and Petra Martic to win the inaugural edition of the Zhengzhou Open. She had lost to Martic in four of their previous five matches, but this time, she powered past the Croatian 6-3 6-2.

“My goal was to win this tournament…this is the best start to the Asian swing, I don’t think I could have done any better [this week],” said Pliskova.

The victory gives the Czech her tour-leading fourth title of the season (Brisbane, Rome, Eastbourne), her 15th overall. She also secures a fourth consecutive singles qualification at the WTA Finals, the longest active streak.

Read more:
Brisbane 2019: Karolina Pliskova outlasts Lesia Tsurenko

Daniil Medvedev


18 Grand Slam titles vs 0, 83 career titles vs 5. This US Open final looks one-sided but nonetheless appetizing as Daniil Medvedev has been on fire lately reaching his fourth consecutive final. He’s also the player with most wins on hard courts this season. Will he be the first NextGen player to claim a Grand Slam?

Medvedev’s road to the final

Medvedev only faced one-seeded player en route to the final: Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals. But it was all but an easy road for the Russian:
– he overcame severe cramping late in his second round match against Dellien
– he was booed by the crowd at every opportunity after giving them the middle finger in his third round match against Feliciano Lopez
– he lost the opening set to qualifier Dominik Koepfer in the fourth round
– he was booed again in his match against Wawrinka

Round Opponent Score
R1 Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-4 6-1 6-2
R2 Hugo Dellien 6-3 7-5 5-7 6-3
R3 Feliciano Lopez 7-6 4-6 7-6 6-4
R4 Dominik Koepfer 3-6 6-3 6-2 7-6
QF Stan Wawrinka [23] 7-6 6-3 3-6 6-1
SF Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 6-4 6-3
Nadal’s road to the final

Nadal only lost one set en route to his 27th Grand Slam final, to Marin Cilic in the fourth round, who at times looked like the player who triumphed here, back in 2014.

Round Opponent Score
R1 John Millman 6-3 6-2 6-2
R2 Thanasi Kokkinakis WO
R3 Hyeon Chung 6-3 6-4 6-2
R4 Marin Cilic [22] 6-3 3-6 6-1 6-2
QF Diego Schwartzman [20] 6-4 7-5 6-2
SF Matteo Berrettini [24] 7-6 6-4 6-1

Nadal will be the huge favorite to claim his fourth US Open title but everything can happen with the unpredictable Russian. He could follow the footsteps of Bianca Andreescu who stunned Serena Williams yesterday…

Bianca Andreescu, 2019 US Open

Turning back the clock … 20 years after her first US Open title, Serena is in final again. She’ll face 19-yr old Canadian Bianca Andreescu, who’s chasing her first Slam title. Let’s have a look at both players road to the final:

Bianca Andreescu’s road to the final

She finished 2018 ranked world number 178, and now it seems she can’t stop winning, as she will be make her entry to the top 10 on Monday. She had a breakout tournament at Indian Wells, defeating Muguruza, Svitolina and Kerber en route to her maiden WTA title. She then reached the fourth round in Miami, but missed most of the clay and grass court seasons due to a shoulder injury. She came back at the Canadian Open in Toronto, and became the first Canadian woman to win the event Faye Urban in 1969.

Round Opponent Score
R1 Katie Volynets 6-2 6-4
R2 Kirsten Flipkens 6-3 7-5
R3 Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 6-4
R4 Taylor Townsend 6-1 4-6 6-2
QF Elise Mertens 3-6 6-2 6-3
SF Belinda Bencic 7-6 7-5

Playing her first US Open, she’s had the best debut since Venus Williams in 1997.
Bianca cruised through the first three rounds without dropping a set, but had to work hard to get past Taylor Townsend and Elise Mertens in the next rounds. She saved a set point and rallied from two breaks down, winning five straight games to defeat Belinda Bencic in the semifinals.

“I’ve always dreamt of this moment ever since I was a little kid. But I don’t think many people would have actually thought that it would become a reality.”

Serena Williams’ road to the final

Serena has won no title so far this year: she reached the Wimbledon final but was dispatched by Simona Halep 2-6 2-6, and a month later, facing Bianca Andreescu in the final of the Canadian Open, she was forced to retire due to back spasms.

Round Opponent Score
R1 Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-1
R2 Caty McNally 5-7 6-3 6-1
R3 Karolina Muchova 6-3 6-2
R4 Petra Martic 6-3 6-4
QF Qiang Wang 6-1 6-0
SF Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-1

Serena only dropped a set – to 17 yr old McNally – en route to a record 10th Open final. She’s been particularly impressive in her last two rounds, as she dismantled Wang and Svitolina in the quarters and semifinals respectively.
Her victory over the Ukrainian was her 101st win here, tying Chris Evert.

“I think when I first started, you could win a lot of easy matches, then you’re in the quarterfinals, that’s when it starts to get a little more tough. Now, like, there’s no easy match. Everyone’s playing great. Everyone’s just doing a lot better.”

So, who do you think will win this clash of generations? Will it be a record-tying 24th Slam for Serena or a 1st for Bianca?

Read more:
1999 US Open: first Grand Slam title for Serena Williams
2001 US Open: Venus defeats sister Serena
2014 US Open: 18th Grand Slam title for Serena