Hawk-eye and its use on tennis clay courts

Hawk-eye is an advanced ball tracking technology that helps in determining the trajectory of the ball and pitching accuracy. It is used in several sports and tennis has always been one of the leading ambassadors of this system. 

Hawk-eye was introduced in professional tennis in 2006. Since then, it has refined the umpire’s line calls and justified fair play in the process. An expensive technology for the organizers, Hawkeye is now installed in over 100 professional stadiums, including three Slams.

A consistent point of debate in tennis each year has been the implementation of Hawkeye on clay courts. Tennis is played on hard, grass and clay courts. The latter is the only surface where Hawkeye is not used. There are three reasons that explain why Hawkeye is not used on clay courts in tennis. 

Human Instinct
Unlike grass and hard courts, balls tend to skid on clay and leave a mark. Each time the player is in doubt, the umpire can come down from their chair and observe the mark and make a decision.

Hawk-eye accuracy
Even though hawk-eye is accurate with a discrepancy slightly above 3 mm, it’s most optimal calibration can be achieved only on a steady surface. Since elevation points on a clay court keep changing by the movements of the player, the hawk-eye might not give the most accurate results in controversial calls.

Expense
Hawkeye costs nearly 60k to 70k USD. A technology that utilizes 10 cameras of different angles might be overwhelming for the organizers especially when the human eye can be relied upon. 

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