Calls For HawkEye On Clay After Umpire Fault
October 06, 2020
Ironically enough, the French Open is the only Grand Slam not yet making use of the HawkEye ball-tracking system. Instead, quite archaic by comparison, umpires adjudicating the competition at Roland Garros for some strange reason still rely on marks left in the clay when taking final decisions – final decisions that often end up determining the trajectory or even the outcome of a match.
Lamenting Faulty Losses
During Thursday’s match between Canada’s Denis Shapovalov (seeded No. 9) and Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena, Shapovalov was actually up 30-15 when the next ball was ruled to have been placed inside of the line by the eyeballing umpire, when in actual fact it seemed to have landed outside of it.
Had the decision been made in the correct manner, it would have meant two matchpoints for the Canadian star. But instead, because of human error, Shapovalov actually ended up losing the match to the Spaniard. The Canadian after the match took to social media to blow off steam and vent about his frustration with there being no HawkEye technology or systems present at Roland Garros.
His tweet also included a screengrab of the ball that had led to the controversial umpiring decision. The image clearly shows that the ball had in fact landed outside of the line.
Widespread Support Of Tech
It did not take very long for the Canadian’s tweet to go viral. His frustration was clearly no voice in the wilderness – and found support in several of his fellow players on the clay. U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem seemed determined to show his support and to join the rally to make HawkEye happen at Roland Garros. Thiem’s match played against Casper Ruud pretty much went the same blighted way as did the Canadian’s against Baena.
The world number three told members of the media that Casper Ruud had after the match showed him a screengrab on his phone. Though difficult to make out clearly, said Thiem, it did indeed seem as if the umpire had been unable to make proper sense of the mark. Thiem said that especially following set breaks, umpires are often unable to see the mark left by the ball on the clay. This is because the court gets cleaned and the lines get brushed.
It’s There – Why Not Use It?
Celebrated tennis coach and former world number four, Brad Gilbert, said that he too wished to voice his support of modern technology. The tech simply works better and is considered more accurate than what a clay umpire is able to do, said Gilbert.
Even though Ruud’s outcome wasn’t nearly as deciding as that of Thiem, the Norwegian commented on the mishap by saying that he could absolutely relate to the frustrations experienced by Shapovalov. Ruud also added that he found it extremely strange that the technology did in fact exist at Roland Garros, but that it only gets “shown for TV”. He said that he fails to understand why it cannot be used on the actual clay when it’s in fact readily available.
By starting to apply HawkEye technology to clay court tournaments, said Ruud, event organisers would eradicate many of the arguments between umpires and players, and even between players and players.