Source: China State Council Information Office
Another French Open has come and gone, along with an opportunity to finally bring Roland Garros in line with the other three Grand Slam tournaments.
The Paris showcase is the only Slam that does not utilize the Hawk-Eye ball-tracking system, instead leaving it up to umpires to render crucial decisions based on ball marks left on the red clay.
Invented in the UK in 2001, HawkEye uses seven computer-directed cameras mounted on the inside of the stadium roof to visually track the ball from as many different angles and display a profile of its statistically most-probable path.
The video is triangulated and combined to create a three-dimensional representation of the ball’s trajectory. The system is not infallible, but has proven to be accurate within 3.6 millimetres－a success rate that has earned HawkEye a reputation as a reliable impartial adjudicator for several pro sports worldwide, including soccer, cricket and volleyball.
The issue became a hot topic on social media after world No 11 Denis Shapovalov of Canada was victimized by a questionable call on a crucial point during his second-round loss to Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena on Oct 2. Serving for victory at 5-4 in the fifth set, ninth-seeded Shapovalov was up 30-15 when a return that appeared to have landed outside the line was ruled to be in by the umpire.
It could have been two match points for Shapovalov if the call went his way, but he ended up losing the five-hour marathon 7-5, 6-7 (5),6-3, 3-6, 8-6. The following day the Canadian took to Twitter to vent his frustration, posting a television screen-grab of the ball clearly landing outside the line, accompanied by the question: “When will we have HawkEye on clay?”
US Open champion Dominic Thiem, whose second-round match against Casper Ruud was likewise marred by a couple of bad calls, was quick to empathize with Shapovalov.
“I would 100 percent support HawkEye on clay because in the match between Denis and Roberto there was a bad mistake, and in my match against Rudd there was a mistake that went in my favor,” world No 3 Thiem said in an interview with AFP.
“Casper showed me the mark on his phone after the match. It’s not the umpire’s mistake, because sometimes they just cannot see the mark. It’s too difficult, especially after the set break, because the court is cleaned and the lines are brushed.
“I think it would be fair for everybody if HawkEye was used on clay, and we should make it happen. I hope that next year we will have it in every clay-court tournament.”
Ruud, the beneficiary of the blown call against Thiem, questioned why the existing technology at Roland Garros is only used to elucidate the international television audience.
“I think it’s a bit strange that they have HawkEye available here but they only show it for TV,” said the Norwegian. “I think definitely we should start using it for all claycourt tournaments because we don’t need to have all these arguments with umpires.”
World No 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece also weighed in, tweeting that he would rather depend on technology than umpires.
“I think it’s time for HawkEye on clay, and I don’t understand why they haven’t proceeded,” he said. “If technology allows us to go beyond what current knowledge allows us, I believe they should implement that into tennis. That’s innovation. We have to keep growing and keep adding new things to our sport to help make it better and more fair.”