No Lines people?

If you have watched any of the just-started Australian Open, you may have noticed something different …. There are ZERO lines people on the court!  Every court is equipped with a HawkEye type system (maybe the actual brand) and it makes every line call.  Is that better or worse than the “traditional” system?

Covid or Inevitable?

The tournament said that it made the change to reduce the number of people on the court at one time.  Now it will only be the players, chair, and ball kids.  But In my opinion, this was going to be the future … sooner or later.  And, here are a couple of reasons I like it ….

  • On all calls, an automated voice will call OUT; so if the player disagrees, who are they going to argue with?  The machine?
  • And there are no longer three challenges allocated per set; so players can’t either waste time on a frivolous challenge, or worry about being penalized for having run out of challenges and being “cheated.”

  • The system will even be calling frequently disputed/debated foot faults (I can’t wait to see that reaction from the server!)

“But I want to see it!”

According to the tournament, “The system will automatically show `close calls’ on the big screen on point-ending shots. This by default will be 150 millimeters (just under six inches) or less for a rally shot or 50 mm (two inches) or less for a service.”

“If a player is requesting that they would like to see a point-ending shot that has not animated automatically, then play can be stopped if the chair umpire is of the opinion that the request is reasonable, and the chair umpire should announce the replay. Play should not continue until the shot is shown on the big screen.”

So, what do YOU think good or bad?

TV Schedule – assuming you are recording the late night/early morning matches, the networks will continually be switching coverages; so here is a link to the TV coverage I will be using.

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15 thoughts on “No Lines people?

  1. I love it. No more players bitching about bad line calls, no more arguing with the chair umpire about getting cheated. and by the way, the object is to get the call correct every time, isn’t it? Not to mention it will speed up play. The future is NOW!

  2. Love it! Hopefully the other slams and the ATP and WTA will do the same for all tournaments. It took a virus to make this sensible change? Eliminating the towel servants was also a great change/improvement. How about eliminating let serves?

  3. First reaction all positive – players dealing with the sometimes reasonable doubt on a linesperson’s call due to fallible eyesight by either not an enhancement

  4. Unfortunately people lose their job but the computer system was the “go to” for tournament officials, so now it’s the standard. It was bound to happen.

  5. I like it. Does it also call let serves and not ups?

    Terry, i do not believe so. i think the existing technology on the net and the human tech on the not ups are still in place. george

  6. As a former USTA linesperson I ought to hate it, putting people out of work, but I don’t. It’s good for the game, to eliminate human error in this regard. It eliminates the need for limited challenges, which never made sense, given that on clay courts the umpire can be called any time to check the mark without limitation. The most volatile players benefit the most, having no one to yell at!

  7. I think automatic line calling is a GREAT idea until one of two things happens:

    (1) There is some kind of software or hardware problem or other glitch (including but not limited to an outside hack from some 13 year old pimply geek in some third world country whose name ends in “stan,” or the electricity just goes out in Melbourne), and the system goes down completely. The tournament director having previously told all of the line judges to stay home, it would get pretty chaotic pretty fast were this to occur. I suppose that the tournament could just tell the players they have to call their own lines (as we mere mortals do), or maybe the ball kids could be conscripted to call the lines, or maybe some of the fans would agree to come down to the court and call the lines. But would any of this be how you are supposed to run a Grand Slam tournament?

    (2) A ball that was called out by the system lands extremely close to the line and, on instant replay, it appears from visual observation via the camera that the ball REALLY was good, BUT the system is programmed so it is incapable of overriding its own mistake. Nor can the Chair Umpire do anything about it because the new rules do not empower him to overrule either; he is a slave to the technology like everyone else. Now I assume that the designers of the system are 100% confident something like this will NEVER happen. But as we old fuddy duddies who watched HAL in 2001 A Space Odyssey all know full well, NO artificial intelligence system is EVER 100% foolproof. So this is bound to happen at some point. And then what?

  8. I hope baseball is watching. How can and umpire accurately call a 90 mph slider that nicks the corner just above the knees with the catcher blocking his view?

  9. Overall, I think electronic line calling will be good for the game and players as well. The new system should mean fewer challenges of line calls by players, and less time reviewing replays on big stadium screens. The electronic calls should help players stay focused better than having to think about challenging close line calls made by human error. It also helps eliminate player blow-ups
    and arguments. We all can recall times human line judges become embroiled in some notorious incidents caused by a player’s wrath. I guess we should get used to hearing pre-recorded voices on all courts announcing
    “Out”, “Fault” and “Footfault” during the AO.
    I’m hoping this technology will be the new norm accepted around the world. The Australian Open may be the first Grand Slam tournament to introduce live electronic line calling (due to the pandemic), but not the last. I’m sure this system will be considered for other major tournaments. We will be watching.

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