Tennis: The mad world of electronic line-calls: Computerised experiment under threat after machinery malfunctions

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OFFICIALS threatened to disconnect the computerised line-call experiment at the Hopman Cup in Perth yesterday after the system malfunctioned because of magnesium in a player's racket. The quarter-final between Australia's Wally Masur and France's Cedric Pioline was disrupted on several occasions by rogue bleeps from the courtside machine, later blamed on Pioline's old-fashioned racket, which contained magnesium.

The tournament referee, Peter Bellenger, warned: 'If there are any future problems, we would have to close it down.' The developers of the TEL (Tennis Electronic Lines) system insist Pioline's racket is so unusual there is no danger of future malfunctions.

Masur, who beat Pioline 7-5, 6-4, was far from happy. 'I thought it really disrupted the match, almost to the point of being absurd,' he said.

The controversy deflected attention away from a remarkable performance by Nicole Provis against the world No 18, Nathalie Tauziat, which set Australia on the road to a 3-0 win. Provis clawed her way back to win the longest match of the tournament 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 in two hours 14 minutes.

Australia now meet the winners of today's quarter-final between Switzerland and the top seeds, the Czech Republic's Petr Korda and Jana Novotna.

The line-call system behaved itself during last night's session as the unseeded Austria beat the former champions, Spain, to secure a semi-final against either Germany or the United States.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 31