Line calls on clay courts are nothing new. From Hawkeye to Foxtrot, satellite and other electronic line calls are all the rage, but the system that seems so obvious and obvious hasn’t caught on on clay courts. This is for the very simple reason that the trajectory of a ball bound for the dirt is visible to the naked eye, but there are so many variables that it is always at the center of controversy.

This was the case at this year’s Rome Masters. In the first round of the match between Fabio Fognini (ITA) and Andy Murray (GBR) on the home court, fans were captivated when, down 3-5 in the first set, Murray hit a forehand that Fognini barely caught, and the ball went over Murray’s height as it lobbed. The linesman and chair umpire ruled it an “in,” but Murray strongly protested that the umpire’s mark was not the ball mark at the time. In the process, the passionate home fans whistled and booed the protesting Murray, and the Hawkeye video showed the ball as an “out.메이저사이트

We’ve seen it all too many times, and while it’s easy to chalk it up to human error, it’s dangerous to apply the same judgment now that these incidents can be so traumatizing to someone. To put the day’s events into perspective, Tennis TV edited the footage and uploaded it to social media with the caption, “A match that was bound to be drama,” to which Murray immediately responded, “The Italian fans booed as if I was trying to steal a point from Ponnini. All because the umpire didn’t see the ball mark properly. That’s amazing,” he wrote in response to the boos.

The incident was a stark example of the times we live in and its impact: the media’s unwillingness to address the issue of electronic line calls on clay courts. Everyone knows and understands that in this age of quick uploads and reactions, everything has to be funny and that content and communication needs to appeal to people’s primal interests. However, it should only be done in a way that everyone can find funny and laugh at, otherwise it could be violent to someone.

For one thing, it made the most innocent Murray look ridiculous; for another, it trivialized the umpire’s abilities by publicizing a hawk-eye result on the replay screen without introducing electronic line calls; and for yet another, it savaged the crowd, who had no choice but to become somewhat aggressive in support of their countryman.

Dreams do come true, starting in 2025
In the midst of all this, however, a piece of golden news broke that sent tennis fans into a frenzy: the dream that everyone has been clamoring for is finally coming true. On April 28, the ATP announced the introduction of electronic line calling at all ATP events starting in 2025, banishing the aforementioned line-calling controversy from the tour.

Under the system, known as ELC Live, which stands for Electronic Line Calling Live, all line calls will be made via a pre-populated voice, and will be judged in real time using a combination of on-court sensors and satellites that track the ball’s location to determine if the ball is in or out. This is not dissimilar to the electronic line calls that are currently in use in other events outside of clay, and the interpretation is that the same functionality will be used, but the scope will be expanded to all events. This is a very encouraging announcement, as it means that clay courts, which have resisted electronic line calls until now, will embrace them.

This doesn’t mean that chair umpires are going away. In addition to line calls, tennis matches have a lot of other things that umpires need to do, including player injuries, medical timeouts, stoppages and resumptions, shot clocks, and warnings to players, so it’s still too early for AI to take over the role of the human umpire, but leave the simple task of determining whether a ball is in or out to a machine.

If we leave this clear and simple task to the machines, the line call controversies that are now commonplace will be greatly reduced. Of course, there will be glitches, and the umpire’s judgment will come into play if the machine doesn’t work for a moment, and there will be players who don’t trust the machine enough to ask for a supervisor, but at the very least, it will eliminate the drama of trying to find a single ball mark on an already chaotic court and having to argue about it.

ATP President and former player Andrea Gaudenzi (ITA) said: “This is a historic moment in our sport and has been the result of a lot of hard work. Tradition is important in tennis and it is clear that linesmen have played a huge role in the evolution of our game over the decades. That’s why, with this decision, we are taking an even more responsible approach to reform and the introduction of new technology. Tennis, more than ever, demands the highest standards of officiating,” he said in a very firm and bold statement, perhaps conscious that the sport has always been at the center of controversy over line calls on clay courts.

Work still to be done
But there’s more to ponder. It’s a reality check on whether or not the ATP can actually make this happen. First, let’s look at this decision in perspective. This decision started with a press release from the ATP, which has been reproduced by numerous media outlets, all of which have the same content and no specific details beyond the big-picture plan mentioned above. That being said, it’s not the right time to reveal the details yet, so the press release only says what ATP can tell us now, and more details will only be revealed over time.

So what is the most important consideration for this new system to be implemented? It’s cost.

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