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Why There Is No Hawkeye on Clay

Whereas Hawk-Eye know-how has turn out to be synonymous with accuracy in line-calling throughout most televised tennis tournaments, its notable absence on clay courts, notably in distinguished tournaments just like the French Open, presents a fancy state of affairs.

This text explores the explanations behind this and the evolving panorama of digital line-calling know-how in tennis.

What’s Hawk-Eye and How It Works

hawkeye camera

Hawk-Eye know-how in tennis is a complicated digital system used to visually monitor the ball’s trajectory and precisely decide its touchdown spot, notably for close-line calls. Right here’s the way it works:

1. Cameras and Information Assortment. A number of high-speed cameras, often round 10 to 12, are put in across the court docket. These cameras repeatedly seize the motion of the tennis ball from completely different angles.

2. Picture Processing. The pictures captured by these cameras are processed in real-time by a pc system. The system makes use of a number of digicam angles to triangulate the precise place of the tennis ball in three-dimensional area.

3. Ball Trajectory and Touchdown Spot. The system calculates the ball’s trajectory, together with its flight path and bounce. Analysing the info can exactly decide the place the ball landed in relation to the court docket strains.

4. Assessment and Problem System. Gamers can problem a line name in the event that they consider it’s incorrect. When a problem is made, Hawk-Eye generates a graphical illustration of the ball’s path and the place it landed, displayed on screens for the gamers, umpires, and spectators.

5. Accuracy and Pace. Hawk-Eye is famend for its accuracy, claimed to be inside 2.2 millimetres. The system processes the info and offers the outcome inside seconds, minimising disruption to the sport.

6. Resolution Finality. The choice given by Hawk-Eye is taken into account remaining and is used to overturn or verify the on-court name made by the road judges or umpire. 

Understanding Hawk-Eye Know-how and Its Limitations on Clay

clay mark

Hawk-Eye’s absence on clay courts is twofold.

The primary is that the know-how faces particular challenges when used on clay courts, primarily as a result of nature of the clay floor itself.

Listed here are the principle the explanation why Hawk-Eye struggles on clay courts which are comprised of crushed brick:

  1. Challenges with Clay: The shifting nature of the clay floor is a major problem. Clay surfaces are extra prone to alter throughout play than arduous and grass courts. This steady change requires fixed recalibration of the system to take care of accuracy. Hawk-Eye’s know-how contains measuring the undulations of the court docket’s floor, and on clay, these undulations change extra continuously and considerably as a result of nature of the floor.
  2. Recalibration Frequency: On arduous courts, recalibration is usually carried out as soon as in the beginning of the event, as these surfaces don’t change a lot. On grass courts, like at Wimbledon, recalibration is finished extra continuously as a result of put on and tear of the grass, which alters the court docket’s situations because the event progresses. Nevertheless, clay courts current essentially the most difficult state of affairs, because the floor can change considerably from match to match, necessitating a possible recalibration after every match.
  3. Practicality and Time Constraints: Sustaining and recalibrating the Hawk-Eye system on clay courts (this takes about half-hour after every match) poses sensible challenges, particularly throughout a busy Grand Slam event. This delay might disrupt the event schedule, making utilizing Hawk-Eye for official line-calling functions on clay courts much less possible.
  4. Value and Practicality: Implementing Hawk-Eye on clay courts could also be deemed much less cost-effective or mandatory as a result of pure potential of the floor to indicate ball marks. The price of putting in and sustaining the system (circa $40,000 per court docket) won’t justify its use, primarily when gamers and officers typically settle for the normal methodology (inspecting the mark).

Aspect observe: Opposite to well-liked perception, the brick mud particles swirling round within the wind on a blustery day don’t current an issue to Hawk-Eye.

The second cause Hawk-Eye will not be used is custom; many event administrators agree it’s not required.

  1. Historic Belief and Familiarity: The follow of utilizing clay marks to find out line calls has been in place for properly over a century. It’s a time-tested methodology that gamers, umpires, and spectators are aware of and belief. This custom kinds a major a part of the sport’s historical past, particularly on clay courts.
  2. Seen Bodily Proof: Clay courts have the distinctive benefit of leaving seen, dusty crimson marks the place the ball lands. These marks present clear bodily proof that can be utilized to guage whether or not a ball was in or out. This speedy visible suggestions is one thing gamers, and umpires can straight examine and use for decision-making.
  3. Participant Involvement in Line-Calling: Gamers on clay courts could be extra concerned in line-calling choices. They’ll examine and talk about the mark with the umpire, giving them a way of management and participation in decision-making.
  4. Decreasing Discrepancies: There could be discrepancies between the normal clay mark system and digital overview techniques like Hawk-Eye. Gamers and officers could belief the bodily proof of the mark over an digital system that may not all the time align with what’s seen on the court docket. That is notably related given Hawk-Eye’s calibration and accuracy points on clay surfaces.
  5. Simplicity and Effectivity: Utilizing clay marks is an easy and environment friendly solution to make line calls. It doesn’t require complicated know-how or frequent recalibration, and choices could be made shortly with out important disruptions to the match.

The Concern with Broadcasters Utilizing Hawk-Eye on Clay

hawkeye clay replay

In case you have watched any of the clay occasions on TV, you’ll have undoubtedly seen a Hawk-Eye replay replayed after a close-line name. But, when you noticed it, it wasn’t obtainable to the gamers or the umpire.

Whereas not used for line calling, hawkeye is put in at most televised tournaments. For instance, the Hawk-Eye system put in at Roland Garros, accessed solely by broadcasters, is equivalent to these used on different surfaces for officiating functions.

This distinction presents an issue, as regardless of the consensus amongst tournaments that Hawk-Eye will not be appropriate for official line-calling on clay courts, broadcasters proceed to make use of Hawk-Eye replays throughout matches.

That is meant so as to add a component of technological perception for viewers, however this follow has unintended adverse penalties.

  1. Conflicting Visuals: Broadcasters present Hawk-Eye replays, which may generally contradict the selections made by umpires on the court docket. Since Hawk-Eye on clay isn’t calibrated for the exact situations of every match, these replays might not be correct.
  2. Eroding Belief in Officers: Utilizing Hawk-Eye in broadcasts, particularly when it disagrees with an umpire’s name, can undermine viewer belief within the officers. Viewers at house, seeing the Hawk-Eye replay, would possibly assume it’s as correct on clay as on different surfaces, main them to query the umpire’s competence or integrity.
  3. Influence on Umpires: Umpires, who’re already below important stress to make right calls, discover themselves unfairly criticised. This criticism is exacerbated by social media platforms like Twitter, the place choices are scrutinised and sometimes vilified based mostly on the Hawk-Eye replays proven in broadcasts.
  4. Deceptive Illustration: Whereas Hawk-Eye offers a sophisticated technological strategy to line calls, its use on clay court docket broadcasts creates a deceptive illustration of its accuracy and reliability on this explicit floor.

Given the constraints of Hawk-Eye on clay courts, a extra accountable strategy to broadcasting could be to chorus from displaying Hawk-Eye replays in conditions the place the know-how will not be formally sanctioned for line-calling. This could assist preserve the integrity of the umpires’ choices and keep away from confusion amongst viewers.

I’m not a fan of broadcasters utilizing it as a result of each time a conflicting replay is proven, the talk about Hawk-Eye on clay raises its head on social media. 

Gamers on the receiving finish of a foul name are sometimes tagged in replays and picture stills of Hawk-Eye clips that they then see as 100% proof they have been right.

Hawk-Eye Options: The Introduction of Foxtenn Know-how


FoxTenn, a Spanish start-up, not too long ago entered the fray with a daring promise of eliminating doubts in line-calling, particularly on clay.

The system was accepted in late 2016 following a rigorous sequence of checks and standards set by a committee comprising ITF, ATP, WTA and Grand Slam event representatives to overview choices made by on-court officers.

Utilising round 40 cameras together with scanners and lasers, FoxTenn captures the ball’s influence on the court docket in actual time, bypassing the necessity for simulations and claiming a zero-error price. This declare is backed by a research accepted by main tennis federations just like the ATP, ITF, and WTA.

Roughly thirty males’s and ladies’s tournaments have adopted FoxTenn thus far. The know-how has been used for a few years on the Marseille Open, the place it initially had some points as a result of velocity of the ball, however this has since been corrected.

It was additionally utilized in Madrid on the Masters 1000 occasion, the place event director Tiriac was a giant proponent of line-calling know-how.

Foxtenn works within the following method:

  1. Actual Bounce Know-how: FoxTenn makes use of “Actual Bounce Know-how,” which entails high-speed cameras and laser know-how to trace the ball’s motion and precise level of contact with the court docket. This methodology is extra appropriate for clay courts, the place the ball leaves a bodily mark.
  2. Excessive-Pace Cameras and Lasers: The system employs over 40 high-speed cameras and laser know-how to seize the ball’s motion at 1000’s of frames per second. This enables for a extremely correct illustration of the ball’s trajectory and bounce.
  3. Accuracy in Monitoring Ball Marks: Not like Hawk-Eye, which estimates the ball’s place and path, FoxTenn offers a extra literal and exact illustration of the place the ball has landed. That is essential on clay courts, the place the bodily mark of the ball is significant in making line calls.
  4. Complementing Conventional Clay Marks: FoxTenn enhances the normal methodology of inspecting clay marks by offering a technological affirmation of the ball’s touchdown spot. This hybrid strategy enhances line-calling accuracy on clay courts whereas respecting the normal follow.
  5. Gaining Acceptance in Skilled Tournaments: FoxTenn has been gaining acceptance in skilled tennis, particularly on clay courts. Its potential to supply correct real-time information with out frequent recalibration makes it an appropriate various for tournaments performed on this floor.

How Foxtenn Compares to Different Line Calling Programs

Beneath is Foxtenn’s copy designed to indicate “how we examine”, so it’s to not be handled as an unbiased comparability of know-how.

Accuracy/Precision Excessive Most. “Anticipated systematic error in edge-line “0”
System Technique Base Estimation of air trajectory and influence Actual bounce evaluation
HARDWARE SYSTEM BASE Ten cameras (at 150 fps) 40 extremely high-speed cameras (at 2.500 fps) in synchronisation with ten high-speed lasers
{Hardware} System Base Max. 1.500 IPS Greater than 100.000 IPS
Digital camera Location For Accuracy Aerial/Removed from strains (between 14 to 50 meters) Ending strains at floor stage. Near the bounce to see beneath ball
Photographs Proven To Spectator Simulation/projection. Blended with actual results Actual bounce at ultra-slow velocity and infographics
System Fault Dangers Danger of sudden trajectory change: Wind / internet contact/vibrations, and so on. Proof against typical errors like hitting the web or wind deviation as a result of it’s based mostly on the actual bounce
Set up Working Dangers Set up is tough and dangerous as a result of peak they should be positioned at Cameras and lasers are arrange in a simple method at court docket stage
Danger Of System Occlusion Unknown No danger. Every ball is seen by 5 completely different sensors (digicam/lasers)
Tech Patent Safety Unknown World broad patented

Primarily based on the above, Hawk-Eye seems redundant, however I believe Foxtenn’s advertising is reasonably sensational in its claims. They appear to wish to garbage alternate options whereas massively hyping up their product. 

Their web site can also be riddled with grammatical and spelling errors. That is in all probability attributable to translation from the agency’s native Spanish, nevertheless it’s a bit beginner.

We’ve seen it’s not infallible when in use, and there was some confusion between gamers, umpires and the Foxtenn replays proven.

On the 2023 Madrid Open, Foxtenn was in use because the official line calling system, the place it known as a ball out in a disputed level between Davidovich Fokina and Rune. Tennis TV had entry to Hawk-Eye, which known as the identical ball in. Which was right?

Gamers have additionally criticised the product with Taylor Fritz. In a now-deleted tweet, he stated when a event makes use of FOXTENN, he’ll problem something shut as a result of he thinks it’d name it in.

On the flip facet of that, whereas no system is ideal, Hawk-Eye has loved a monopoly over line calling know-how since 2006, so the addition of Foxtenn as competitors makes issues extra thrilling and doubtlessly forces Hawk-Eye to innovate, which may solely be a great factor.

Participant Views on Know-how in Tennis: Clay Courtroom Controversies

federer halle press

Integrating know-how like Foxtenn and Hawk-Eye in tennis, particularly on clay courts, has sparked various opinions amongst prime gamers.

Naomi Osaka appreciates the main focus shift know-how brings: “I don’t thoughts it in any respect as a result of the know-how helps me concentrate on the match reasonably than feeling the necessity to argue calls as typically.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas advocates equity and technological development: “I believe it’s time for Hawk-Eye on clay… We should continue to grow and including new issues to the game that can assist make it higher and extra honest.”

Dominic Thiem acknowledges the sensible challenges, favouring Hawk-Eye for readability: “I might assist 100% Hawk-Eye on clay… generally you simply can not see the mark. It’s too tough, particularly after the set break.”

Conversely, Taylor Fritz and Reilly Opelka categorical scepticism in regards to the accuracy and effectiveness of Foxtenn: “When a event makes use of FoxTenn, I’ll problem something shut trigger it’d simply say it’s in,” says Fritz. On the identical time, Opelka remarks, “I believe the FoxTenn problem system works about 20% of the time.”

Including to the criticism, Maria Sakkari raised issues about its accuracy: “We noticed in Madrid that the Hawk-Eye (Foxtenn) that they had there was not correct in any respect. I spoke with different gamers. They stated the identical. If it’s correct, then sure (apply it to clay). If it’s not correct, then there’s no level.”

It’s attention-grabbing to notice that gamers appear to be confused relating to the precise applied sciences in use, which is clear in statements from gamers like Maria Sakkari, Holger Rune, Roger Federer, and Gael Monfils:

For instance, Maria Sakkari talked about Hawk-Eye when referring to Foxtenn’s inaccuracies.

Holger Rune additionally mistakenly referred to the system as Hawk-Eye when he meant Foxtenn.

When he was taking part in, Roger Federer expressed uncertainty about whether or not he had used Foxtenn, indicating a scarcity of clear distinction between the 2 applied sciences in gamers’ minds.

Gael Monfils acknowledged being accustomed to Hawk-Eye however famous that FoxTenn might need a bonus in displaying the place the precise ball landed.

This confusion underscores a broader difficulty within the sport: the necessity for extra clear communication and understanding of the technological instruments applied in tennis, particularly relating to their distinct functionalities and accuracy.

Clay Tournaments That Have Used FoxTenn

foxtenn clay

FoxTenn has been used at a number of clay challenger occasions and the next ATP and WTA tournaments:

  • Mutua Madrid Open
  • Estoril Open
  • Barcelona Open
  • Rio Open
  • Charleston
  • Swedish Open (Bastad)

When Will Digital Line Calling Turn out to be Commonplace on Clay?

mutua madrid open 2023

The ATP anticipates that by 2025, know-how will exchange line judges in officiating tennis matches full-time.

Whereas this projection signifies the rising belief in and dependence on know-how and tournaments like Barcelona, Madrid, Estoril, and Bastad have embraced Foxtenn, different occasions are reluctant to maneuver away from the normal position of line judges.

Tournaments like Monte Carlo, Rome and maybe most significantly, the French Open have rejected the concept a number of instances throughout event press conferences.

Because it stands, none of them are planning to alter until they’re compelled to.

I do know Madrid has been utilizing Foxtenn for a very long time. We’re going to watch this and research this for the longer term. ATP would possibly even impose this on us sooner or later, however in the interim, we’re ready and we’re very glad with our human linesmen. David Massey, Monte Carlo Tournment Director.

The French Open can also be standing agency towards know-how solely changing line judges, expressing a choice for conventional line-calling strategies over digital techniques, emphasising the significance of human roles in tennis officiating.

In accordance with the event director, this alternative will not be solely in regards to the accuracy machines can present but in addition in regards to the influence on individuals’s jobs and the custom of the game.

The underside line, earlier than doing something new, is that it’s individuals’s jobs that we’re speaking about. It’s not simply ‘machine versus a person’s eye.’ We have now an excellent method of instructing from a younger age, a chair umpire and linesman. In our nation, now we have a few of the greatest umpires, and one of many causes is that that is so constant; now we have a number of tournaments in France all through the season, they’re very lively, and so they go from being a linesman to finally a chair umpire and [some] to a referee After all, the machines are very correct, though, on clay, its solely disadvantage is you may doubtlessly have a mark … touching the road, everybody would see the precise image of the mark on the display, and [the computer] would [say] out. Each single participant on this planet, when there’s a [disputed] name, will go to the mark and look Would you wish to have a court docket with no chair umpire, no linesmen, simply digital line-calling? Is that one thing we actually need sooner or later? I believe we’d miss one thing. Man Overlook, French Open Match Director.

Last Ideas

The continued dialogue about digital line-calling in tennis, particularly on clay courts, raises some essential questions on the way forward for the game.

The French Open’s determination to stay with line judges over know-how isn’t nearly accuracy; it’s about valuing custom and the human side of the sport.

As know-how like FoxTenn begins to look in additional clay tournaments, we’re left to marvel what tennis will seem like within the coming years. Will know-how take over utterly, or is there nonetheless a novel worth in human judgment that machines can’t replicate?

What’s your tackle this shift in the direction of know-how in tennis? Are you all for digital line calling on clay? Let me know within the feedback.



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