Hawk-Eye inventor still to convince it's a good call for tennis

At a tennis club in Hampshire next week a trial is scheduled to take place which may change forever how matches are umpired. Paul Hawkins and his team hope to persuade the International Tennis Federation to use their Hawk-Eye technology to resolve line-call disputes.

At present it is an analytical tool which is only used by the media - the BBC at Wimbledon, and also at all other Grand Slam events. It has also been used at a Davis Cup tie, the Masters event and at Queen's. The organisers of the Australian Open, in particular, are enthusiastic about increasing its use, and there has been vocal support from former players such as John McEnroe who, of course, knows a thing or two about disputed line-calls.

Hawkins has been working hard to persuade a reluctant ITF and explain how Hawk-Eye, which almost instantaneously generates a 3D image of where the ball lands, works. "It aims to resolve controversial decisions, so in tennis that is often line-calls," he says. "Umpires already have Cyclops, so technology is being used to help, not replace, them. You do have an obligation to make sure it's the players' ability that decides a match and not the mistakes of an umpire."

But that is one reason why the authorities are reluctant to agree - they feel the technology will undermine the role of the umpire which, at best, is under constant questioning. Hawkins, who first introduced Hawk-Eye to review controversial lbw decisions in cricket, disagrees.

"I think there is a strong body of opinion that Hawk-Eye should be used to help umpires make official decisions," he says. "We did an event last November where the umpires used it if a player disputed a bad call, but it was a non-ATP Tour event. And often Hawk-Eye shows the umpire is correct so, if anything, we give the umpires credibility."

Hawk-Eye is a simple system. At Wimbledon - which agreed for it to be installed last year, but only to aid the media - it is deployed on Centre and No 1 Courts. "There are five high-speed cameras high up in the roofs which track the ball as it flies through the air," says Hawkins.

"A computer captures the image from each camera and works out where the ball is. By finding the ball in multiple cameras we can find out where the ball is in 3D space - where it is in the real world, if you like. The computer then combines all this information and traces the trajectory of the ball in each rally. This information is then sent to the virtual- reality machine which produces the graphic images you see on the television. So Hawk-Eye is able to show where the ball landed in every point played."

Hawkins adds: "The bounce mark of the ball that Hawk-Eye shows is accurate to 3mm. We also take into account the amount the ball compresses and skids on the court." McEnroe, for example, has suggested that players should have a number of appeals they can make each match to the Hawk-Eye machine.

Nevertheless, the authorities are reluctant, despite the system's speed. Cost is another issue they highlight, saying that if they approve it, the machines will have to be used on every court and in every competition. And that would be expensive. Interestingly, players are said to be more enthusiastic.

In the drama of his defeat to Tim Henman, a comment from Mark Philippoussis was telling. The Australian, who was warned after swearing following a disputed line-call, said it was time that umpires had access to slow-motion video replays at courtside.

Philippoussis went on to say he had received text messages from friends watching back in Melbourne telling him Hawk-Eye had confirmed he was right, the line judge was wrong.

The Australians also believe Hawk-Eye can be used to improve technique, and argue that this is what has happened in cricket, where it has operated for the past four years.

Henman, who also questioned several calls, takes a more traditional view. "Balls are flying around at 130mph and it's a tough job to be a line judge," he says. "Some calls go in your favour, some don't." Hawk-Eye, its inventor argues, would end that uncertainty forever.

Suggested Topics
Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
books
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference