Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hawk-Eye Anyone?

"I think there's been a bit of gamesmanship by Wozniacki here in this tiebreak." -- Pam Shriver.
I'm not sure if there has ever been a stronger argument for why the French Open needs to open its arms to technology and start incorporating the challenge system into the tournament.

The video above shows a 90-second rant by Caroline Wozniacki that would never have happened if the French Open was using Hawk-Eye. What would have happened is a challenge, a clear and concise result, and Caroline Wozniacki taking the balls to serve. End of story.

Instead what happened was a very well-timed and prolonged argument from Wozniacki that had even her father confused, er, miffed.

It was wrong on so many levels. Wozniak had the momentum, had three set points in the second set of what was proving to be one of the most entertaining matches of the day, and just wanted to get on with the tennis. Instead, because of the lack of a challenge system in clay-court tennis, Wozniak was forced to endure a 90-second momentum-snuffing rant by her opponent.

Full credit to Wozniacki -- whether she intended to do it or not -- for doing what it takes to get inside her opponent's head (or to thoroughly discuss the call, which may have been her only purpose -- only she knows). And shame on Wozniak for letting this set slip away, regardless of what Wozniacki did or didn't do. But let's not forget that Wozniak was denied a set point in the last game of the same set when the umpire incorrectly ruled (yes, by checking the ball mark in the clay) that her stab volley at 30-all had not hit the line. Spot Shot later showed showed that it did.

In the span of 10 points, there were two very compelling arguments for the French Open to introduce the challenge system. And a match that could have had a classic finish ended anticlimactically.

I'm all for tradition, but more importantly I'm for fairness and clarity, and giving players the right to challenge calls reduces chaos and gamesmanship and puts the focus back on playing the game rather than arguing about it -- how can that be a bad thing?

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