Tennis News

Cyclops ousted by HawkEye at Wimbledon

By Stevie Smith Apr 25, 2007, 20:30 GMT

Often considered to be a particularly contentious and, at times, unreliable electronic line-call assistant utilised by the All England Club during the world famous Wimbledon fortnight, the infamous beeping Cyclops system will be duly abandoned on the Wimbledon show courts this year, while new Hawk-Eye technology looks to extend its steely gaze by way of replacement.

Cyclops, which has been in use at the historic All England Club since the tournament of 1980, will now be forced to make way for Hawk-Eye, which is a high-speed multi-camera technology designed to precisely track ball trajectory. In terms of its current standing and effect throughout the world’s leading tennis competitions, Hawk-Eye was utilised in its first Grand Slam when it appeared at the 2006 U.S. Open in New York, while it has since also been embraced by the Australian Open in Melbourne.

“We can confirm the introduction of Hawk-Eye," commented Ian Ritchie, chief executive of the All England Club, this past Tuesday, before outlining that some final testing of the system will take place in May before Wimbledon starts on June 25.

“We will use [Hawk-Eye] on Centre and Number One court and we have put in place two large screens on both courts,” added Ritchie. “We will not use Cyclops on those two courts because we feel to have conflicting technologies in use at the same time would be inappropriate. We will re-deploy Cyclops on other courts.” 

In regard to the specific rules and guidelines to be associated with Hawk-Eye at the Wimbledon Championships, particularly the players’ allocated amount of line call challenges, Ritchie intonated that the final number was still to be decided.

“It’s unlikely that they’ll be unlimited challenges,” he said, explaining that Wimbledon’s grass court surfacing made for “slightly different circumstances” when compared to the hard courts of the U.S. and Australian Open tournaments. Current rules state that players are allowed two incorrect calls per set, but Richie hinted that “maybe we are looking to extend the limit. We want to extend the continuity of what has worked well at the American and Australian Opens but we’re looking at alternatives as well.”

While certainly a thrilling new aspect of the sport, Hawk-Eye, as with Cyclops, has its detractors, with the likes of Spain’s world number two Rafael Nadal claiming that a wrongly overturned ruling during 2007’s Dubai Open cost him the match against Russian Mikhail Youzhny thanks to Hawk-Eye. Also, Swiss world number one Roger Federer has publicly stated his disapproval of the new line call technology.

The Hawk-Eye system was created by Dr. Paul Hawkins in 2001 during his time at Roke Manor Research Ltd., before it was later introduced officially through Hawk-Eye Innovations Ltd. in a developmental partnership with TV production company Sunset + Vine. Hawk-Eye reads real-time sports video footage via feeds from multiple cameras at multiple viewing angles before then reconstructing the action and path of the ball through an accurate 3D animated representation.

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