A new front has opened up in the continuing
conversation about technology and its role in officiating sport, with the US
Open tennis tournament announcing it will use “instant replay” to assist in
getting line calls right.

The US Open is the first grand slam
tournament to embrace the technology, but will only use it on its two biggest
courts, meaning the majority of matches will still be officiated by humans.

With many players now serving at over 200
km/h, and returns coming back almost as fast, the United States Tennis
Association acknowledged that the human eye might no longer be the best tool
for the job.

Accurate to within three millimetres
(basically the fuzz on a tennis ball), the new technology also involves some
interesting rule changes.
As Bloomberg reports
this morning: “Players can use video challenges twice each set and once in a
tie-break … A player who is correct retains the challenge, which is lost if the
replay supports the original call.” Players also get an extra challenge during
tie-breaks.

The US Open claims a large majority of
players are in favour of the system, with many of those neatly compiled and
linked to from the US Open website.
Those with opposing views have been reported elsewhere.

“At these Grand Slams, we play on 20
courts. Is it fair to have it only on the one big-match court?” Lindsay
Davenport
asked.

“I am concerned about the amount of
money that will be blown on this for just a few points,” Roger Federer
said last year. The cost for the US Open is reported to be around $US250,000.
“It’s money that I think we can use for other different things. I am
against the whole idea of replays.”

Of course, when you hit winners as far
inside the lines as Roger does, you can say that. The new system will make its
debut on March 22 at the Miami Nasdaq-100 Open.

Peter Fray

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