Considered by many as a technical boon that would make officiating tennis matches mistake-proof, the HawkEye line calling system is in the eye of the storm after Roger Federer’s rant against it during the Wimbledon final on Sunday.
However, there are others like Mumbai umpire Nitin Kannamwar, whose call was among those Federer challenged on his way to his fifth Wimbledon title, who feel that the HawkEye is here to stay and makes things better.
But television replays of a call in the fourth set that Federer was most peeved with suggested the ball landing beyond the baseline while the HawkEye ruled it ‘in’. So, what’s going on?
In an email response, Paul Hawkins, managing director, Hawk-Eye Innovations Ltd, UK, told the Hindustan Times that the system had not made any mistake and the ball was “1mm in” (see graphic).
According to him, television images are deceptive because the cameras are at the wrong angle, looking down at the ball. “The ball has a lot of motion blur and the cameras do not work at a high enough frame rate to capture the crucial part of when the ball first touches the ground,” Hawkins said.
HawkEye cameras are different and, according to Hawkins, capture frames at the rate of 1000 frames per second.
He said the ball after bouncing on a part of the line skids before the next bounce. In broadcast cameras this appears as one sequence — thus creating the impression that the ball landed out — while the HawkEye captures the entire skid and therefore is able to pinpoint the exact contact point with the line.