Hawk-Eye tech has had a profound impact on professional tennis. Is it all good news, though?
“You cannot be serious!”
If John McEnroe was still playing today, he’d be yelling at a computer system.
That’s because Hawk-Eye has completely changed the way we watch professional tennis.
When Novak Djokovic won his fourth US Open crown with a straight sets win over Daniil Medvedev on Monday morning – Ajde Nole! – there were a lot fewer people on the court than when he last won in New York in 2018.
That’s because the linespeople who once judged whether the ball was in or out have been replaced by a system that relies on high-tech cameras to triangulate the trajectory of a tennis ball.
Aussie Open All in on Hawk-Eye Tech
Eagle-eyed Aussies will be quick to point out it was Melbourne Park that went all-in on Hawk-Eye technology, with the 2021 Australian Open the first Grand Slam to be played entirely without the use of line judges.
The move was hastened by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the pro tennis world finally forcing players to fetch their own towels instead of requiring long-suffering ball kids to do it for them.
But the biggest change in recent years is the absence of linespeople.
No longer can players aim a verbal spray at the hapless human behind the baseline trying to judge whether a 230km/h serve has painted the line.
Instead, the Hawk-Eye system judges to within a 3.6-millmetre margin of error – roughly the equivalent of the fluff on the tennis ball – whether the ball was in or out.
It’s a lot more accurate than relying on the human eye.
But does it take away some of the sport’s humanity?
Like VAR in football, Hawk-Eye tech has made tennis more accurate – and eliminated a few jobs in the process.
P.S. The US Open has come a long way over the last decade or so.
Hawk-Eye tech, new stadium courts… but still the same men’s singles champion as 2011. Congrats, Novak!
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