Why Is Hawk-Eye or Electronic Line-Calling System Not Used on Tennis Clay Courts?

Published 04/27/2021, 12:20 AM EDT
PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 01: The Roland Garros logo is seen outside the VIP village on day nine of the 2015 French Open at Roland Garros on June 1, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)


Tennis is renowned as one of the most traditional sports in the world. But in modern times, where technology has touched every aspect of life, even tennis met innovation in the name of Hawk-Eye. In simpler words, it is an electronic line-calling system that eliminates human error. However, both hard and grass courts use the hawk-eye habitually but not clay courts. Why?

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Clay is one of the oldest surfaces in the history of tennis. So, many experts believe that Hawk-Eye is unaccustomed to clay courts because of its tradition. But is that the actual reason?

DIVE DEEPER

10 Wimbledon Traditions that you should know about

almost 4 years ago

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

The real reason behind Hawk-Eye not being used on tennis clay courts

The answer to why clay-court tournaments do not use the Hawk-Eye system is because of the surface itself. Notably, the red clay leaves behind marks where the ball has bounced, extinguishing the need for electronic-line calling.

On this matter, the tournament director of the French Open, a clay-court Grand Slam tournament, Gilbert Ysern, responded. He said, “I don’t think we need it. There are ball marks on clay, and our chair umpires are used to checking the marks when needed, and, so why would we need Hawk-Eye?”

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 29: Ground staff prepare the court during a rain delay on day three of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros on May 29, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

But this method leaves behind room for errors, which has caused many controversies over time. However, Ysern, a former chair umpire himself, said, “It’s very, very rarely that the officials can’t find the mark.”

Furthermore, he even agreed with the experts, calling it a part of the long tennis tradition. “The chair umpire getting down and checking the mark and back up, it’s part of the, how do you say, the mise-en-scene,” Gilbert said.

DIVE DEEPER

Wimbledon Championships Headed for Massive Revamp After Purchase of Neighbouring Golf Course

23 days ago

Is money also a factor for not using Hawk-Eye on clay?

Many also believe that avoiding Hawk-Eye at clay-court tournaments is a matter of cost-cutting. The technology is indeed a high-dollar, but according to Ysern, it is more about the principal.

He explained, “Why should tennis be the same on all surfaces? We water the court between two matches. Should we water the court between two matches at the U.S. Open? Of course, I’m kidding. Each surface has its own way of working.”

PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 09: A general view inside Court Philippe Chatrier during the ladies singles final between Sloane Stephens of The United States and Simona Halep of Romania during day fourteen of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros on June 9, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Inarguably, the events played on red dirt set a different tone than the rest of the tournaments. Moreover, no Hawk-Eye also means linespersons have their jobs intact.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

But tennis players finding themselves on the lose-end of the authority’s call is not so uncommon. Thus, it will be a mammoth transition the day clay-courts start using the Hawk-Eye.

Are you in favor of or against the electronic-line calling system in tennis?

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

DIVE DEEPER

CONFIRMED: French Open 2021 Gets Postponed, Closes the Gap by 2 Weeks to Wimbledon

about 1 month ago

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Purav Joshi

662 articles

Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT