U.S. Open Will Be First Grand Slam With Electronic Line Calling at Every Match

Venus Williams (R) and Serena Williams look at the replay of a disputed call during the Women’s Doubles final of the 2009 U.S. Open. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The U.S. Open, which pioneered the use of video replay in 2006, will become the first Grand Slam tournament to install electronic line calling capabilities for every match later this summer.

All 16 competition courts will have Hawk-Eye technology, more than doubling the seven served last year. In 2017, Hawk-Eye was only available on the four main courts (Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, Grandstand, and Court 17) and Courts 5, 10, and 13.

The latter three relied on a dedicated replay room inside Arthur Ashe, a centralized system mimicking those now used by MLB, the NFL, and the World Cup, among others. That set-up will be in place for the new courts as well. The main four courts will continue to have their own dedicated replay team in the venue.

This expansion was made possible when the USTA rebuilt the south field courts and new Grandstand stadium back in 2016. Work crews laid fibers and cables in advance of that project.

“We think it’s the right thing to do,” said U.S. Open tournament director David Brewer in a statement. “It’s the fair thing for the players. We should provide a tournament where the conditions from court to court, no matter whether it’s Court 15 or Arthur Ashe Stadium, are as close to identical as possible.”

SportTechie Takeaway

Brewer’s noble sentiment is a good one. The time for this well-received technology has long since come. Even a qualifier competing on a back court should receive the same assurance of fairness and accuracy as a top seed in a stadium. The process is quick and purportedly precise—Hawk-Eye has said its calls are accurate to within 2.6 millimeters, or one-tenth of an inch. 

The Next Gen ATP Finals last November even utilized Hawk-Eye for every line call, sending visual and audio alerts to the chair umpire with a tenth of a second.