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Tennis Stars Support Hawk-Eye Decision
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The once-disputed Hawk-Eye electronic line-calling system has entered the Beijing Tennis Centre for the first time.

The China Open is the first event using the system outside the US.

The new technology, which was first introduced in Nasdaq 100 Open in the United States in March, has been used in the US Open and its six series tournaments.

"The Hawk-Eye technology is one of the best improvements for tennis in the last 50 years, because it can provide much more precise judgment and bring games some new focuses," said Brad Drewett, vice-president of the ATP Tour.

"It's good for the sport where the human eye can often have difficulty detecting accurate line calls due to the accelerated pace of play as well as variables such as sun, shadows and the occasional need for referees."

"It's good for players, because they see obvious mistakes, they can challenge. If they are right, they can get the score. It simply adds a lot of fun for the sport."

The Hawk-Eye System, which combines the data recorded by ten cameras placed around the court, is the first technology in tennis history that provides players the chances to review and correct calls made by officials. It was created in 2001 but was merely used by television commentators during coverage.

Once a player challenges a line call, an official replay will be provided simultaneously to the television broadcast and in-stadium video boards, allowing players, officials, on-site fans and television viewers the opportunity to see the live results of a player challenge.

A total of four players challenged eight calls in the first two days of China Open and among them, four calls were reversed as a result of the challenge. The new system wins unanimous approval by players at China Open.

"I think it is so great for me and it is helping everybody," said Thai Paradon Srichaphan, who used the system twice during his first round match against Rainer Schuttler of Germany with one call being corrected. "It's a very good idea because it gives players a chance to challenge the referees. I hope to use it at more tournaments in the future."

Top seed Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia echoed Srichaphan, saying it's always good to give players some more rights on the court.

"It is fantastic to give us more choices during match," he said. "It takes a lot of pressure off. You don't need to get so angry as usual. If you think a call is incorrect, you don't spend extra games thinking about it."

Fans are also full of praise as they are pleased with the stimulant in games that sometimes brings dramatic result.

"It's not only about eliminating human errors, it's about inserting excitement to the game, which haven't changed for many years in terms of its format," said Yan Qiang, a student of Beijing Normal University. "When a player challenges, the spectators all pay their full attention to the big screen and wait for an unexpected result, isn't it fantastic?"

Some critics cast doubt on Hawk-Eye's accuracy, but Drewett suggested that even if the system was not perfect, it was better than the human eye.

"Even if it's off a little bit it's impartial," he said. "And that's the key and it's better than the eye - I'm convinced of that. It has not been full-proved so far but it has gone through a number of the tough tests, I'd say even it is not 100 per cent accurate, it is 99.9 percent OK."

(China Daily September 14, 2006)

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