US Open to cut nearly all line judges in favor of Hawk-Eye

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The US Open will use electronic line-calling on all but two of its courts in 2020. Additionally, the ATP has been cleared to use Hawk-Eye Live at all remaining events in 2020.

The future is coming to the US Open, like it or not. 

The tournament has announced that it will use electronic line-calling on all courts but its two main show courts during the 2020 US Open. 

The feature, called “Hawk-Eye Live” performs all tasks of a linesperson, including verbalising the status of calls in real time with computer-simulated voicing. It’s fitting that it should happen at the US Open, the tournament which introduced electronic line-calling to Grand Slam tennis in 2006 and the first Grand Slam to have electronic line-calling on all courts in 2018. 

The system has already been in use at the ATP’s Next Gen Finals for three years, as well as at World TeamTennis, where it was given the chance to shine on championship point on Sunday between the New York Empire and the Chicago Smash. The computer ruled that CoCo Vandeweghe’s return had clipped the baseline, handing New York the championship. It was verified via video review, before the match was officially completed.

The importance of social distancing and ensuring the efficacy of the US Open bubble made the decision a no-brainer this year for the tournament’s organisers. The US Open is striving to keep the site limited to as few personnel as possible. With 15 courts using Hawk-Eye Live the tournament can reduce the amount of line judges on site from over 300 to under 100. 

“Every functional area of the tournament has been asked to limit the number of people who physically need to be on-site,” said Stacey Allaster, US Open tournament director, told Christopher Clarey of the New York Times.

The Western and Southern Open, which will be held at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the week before the US Open, will also use the system. 

According to Clarey, the ATP has approved Hawk-Eye Live for all events in 2020 due the need for strong social distancing due to Covid-19. The WTA has of yet only authorized it for the Western and Southern Open. 

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