DOHA - “You cannot be serious. Chalk flew up!”John McEnroe’s immortal harangue at the umpire at Wimbledon many years ago, will sadly, never be repeated. Because this is the age of Hawkeye, the electronic line calling system that has rendered umpire baiting all but extinct. This hack had the opportunity to sit down with the Hawkeye people at a Desert Safari during the ongoing Qatar Open ATP event and gleaned some facts about the system that never fails.
Hawkeye was the invention of a British scientist who had gotten tired of seeing blatantly inaccurate umpiring decisions. So he decided to do something about it. What it culminated in was a system where ten cameras are placed, five on each side of the court. Any three of the five are enough to provide triangulation that provides the precise location where the tennis ball bounced. If a player feels like the call he has received is wrong, he can make a maximum of three incorrect challenges to Hawkeye. And Hawkeye will tell you to the accuracy of within three millimeters whether the ball was in or out. More importantly, according to the players, Hawkeye provides consistency in line calling, something the players prize above all else. The tennis Hawkeye is different from the cricket system although the company is the same. The cricket system uses the cameras already in place for broadcasting while in tennis, ten dedicated cameras are fixed.
So, John McEnroe, your umpire sledging days are over. But hold on. Not quite. The ATP Masters series where McEnroe plies his trade these days, does not have Hawkeye. And McEnroe is still in his element. He is the major draw card and any McEnroe match without tantrums is not complete.
Hawkeye costs a pretty penny. About five million rupees a day. So a good sponsor with deep pockets, is essential!
Usual suspects in the semis: On Center Court, the usual suspects came through into the semi finals. Davydenko plays Ferrer while Gasquet takes on the surprise package, Daniel Brands. Brands, a qualifier, easily defeated Gael Monfils to make his first semi final on the AT Tour. A tall man with a powerful, aggressive game, Brands is on the comeback trail after reaching a high ranking in the 1960s a couple of years ago. Davydenko is a former top four player on his way back from injury. He looked formidable in dispatching the Italian Bolleli for the loss of onloy two games and could prove a match for Ferrer. Brands is in with a good chance against Gasquet, who looks slightly short of his best.