Video review for certain judgment calls, such as whether a ball bounces twice, will be available for the first time in men’s professional tennis at the Next Gen ATP Finals for top 21-and-under players.
The tour announced Friday that players at the Nov. 6-10 event in Milan can request that chair umpires watch replays to decide whether rulings should be upheld or overruled. There will be no limit to these sorts of challenges, unlike the three available per set for electronic line-calling replays used currently at many tournaments.
“When you see an obvious (double bounce) that wasn’t called, and television is showing a replay from all angles, and it’s obvious, it doesn’t do anybody any good to say, ‘If we have the technology, why don’t we use it?’” said Gayle David Bradshaw, ATP Executive Vice President for Rules and Competition. “It’s not taking away the human element. It’s adding a new level to it.”
This goes along with the wave of video reviews being used in various sports, including international soccer, Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Hockey League.
The ATP used the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals to test other innovations, such as the serve clock that wound up being used at this year’s U.S. Open and other hard-court tournaments leading up to it. Bradshaw said those clocks are likely to appear at more events in 2019; there will be a vote on that in Milan.
“The technology is there. We can do it. Is it adding to or taking away from the sport? And what sort of effect will it have on future officiating, on the next generation of line judges and umpires? And will the negatives outweigh the positives?” Bradshaw said in a telephone interview. “I don’t think we’ve answered that question yet.”
Feeds from all television cameras at the court will be made available to a video review operator, who will scan the footage to pick the best angle and send it to the chair umpire’s tablet. The video that’s chosen will also be shown on the court’s screens so spectators can view it, too.
The umpire then will decide whether the original call should stand.
Subject to this new type of review:
— not ups: a double bounce during a point before one player reaches the ball;
— foul shots: a deliberate double-hit of a shot; when a player carries the ball on the racket; when a player hits the ball before it passes the net; when the racket is not in the player’s hand while touching the ball;
— touches: when the ball skims the racket, clothing or body of a player; when a player, or anything a player is wearing or carrying, makes contact with the net or net posts while the ball is in play;
— invasion: when a player, or anything a player is wearing or carrying, touches the opponent’s side of the court while the ball remains in play.
Bradshaw noted that those all are rather rare, although there was a missed call that drew Novak Djokovic’s ire when his third-round opponent at Wimbledon in July, Kyle Edmund, won a point despite TV replays showing he failed to get to a ball before it bounced twice.
“They’re pretty infrequent. I’m sure we’ll get to use it at some point in Milan, but it wouldn’t shock me if we ended up without a challenge all week,” Bradshaw said, before adding with a laugh: “I might need to tell a player to challenge, just so we can see it happen.”
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