To err is human, to forgive divine!
But when that error comes at the cost of a crucial point in a Grand Slam, then forgiveness goes for a toss and frustration takes over.
The year was 2004, and the US Open quarterfinal between Serena Williams and Jennifer Capriati was in full swing. After winning the first set, things turned upside down for Serena. Chair umpire Marina Alves awarded way too many decisions in favour of Capriati, most of them being incorrect, robbing Serena of a win. It was a turning point as calls for introducing technology became louder and louder.
The 2012 edition of the Australian Open was also marred by a series of bad calls from the linesmen, and in some cases the umpires too. And though the organisers will never admit it openly, these errors played a major role in the introduction of Hawk-Eye technology on Show Courts 2 and 3 too, a welcome addition.
According to a study, three out of ten times, judges make incorrect calls, that’s around 27%. Professional line-callers getting one of their three calls wrong is unacceptable as it can change the whole script of the game.
And this was highlighted for the nth time on Sunday. World No 1 Novak Djokovic was taken the distance by Swiss No 2 Stanislas Wawrinka but prevailed after almost a five-hour marathon. However, the match could have ended differently.
With the scores level at 4-4 in the deciding set, it was advantage Wawrinka. A wrong call on part of the linesman denied him a break point, and the Swiss too didn’t bother to challenge (he had only one challenge left). Had he gone for it, well, as they say rest would have been history!
No system is perfect and it’s the same with Hawkeye too. However, this technology has only reduced and not increased the margin of errors. And the fact that three out of 10 challenges are overturned, says it all.
At the Melbourne Park this year, there have been 789 challenges so far. Of the 506 challenges, the linesmen have been wrong 158 times (31.23%) in the men’s category while 81 off 283 calls in the women’s section have been overturned, which is 28.62%
As Andre Agassi says, “This new technology just adds a whole new dimension to the game.” Technology, on the whole, has only been beneficial to the sport. And it’s time other sports follow suit.
I wonder what’s keeping the BCCI waiting! Cook & Co will surely support the cause...