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Hawk-Eye (cont.)

Posted: Friday September 8, 2006 9:55PM; Updated: Friday September 8, 2006 10:53PM
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How many challenges is a player allotted? Players get two challenges per set, plus a bonus in tiebreakers. If a call is reversed, the player retains the challenges. Lose the argument, and you lose the challenge. They don't carry over, either.

How does a player ask for a challenge? The player, to borrow USTA verbiage, must "make it clear to the chair umpire that he is challenging a call." That could be verbal (a simple, "I'd like to challenge that.") or nonverbal (a purposeful wave of the racket).

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Has anyone ever asked for a challenge by accident? No, or at least not to my knowledge.

Is there a penalty if a player makes a challenge when he or she has none remaining? No. There are no point deductions or timeouts lost.

What kind of points can be challenged? Point-ending shots only, with discretion on whether a point should be awarded or replayed going to the chair umpire.

Which players challenge more, men or women? Men by far. They challenge twice as often (124-52), but are wrong more than 29 percent of the time compared to 35 percent for the women. Benjamin Becker would seem the most eagle-eyed among the men, going 3-for-3 in challenges -- all of them in his match against Andre Agassi), while women's finalist Henin-Hardenne is 2-for-3.

Who is the first player to ever challenge a play at the U.S. Open? Mardy Fish, at 2:15 p.m., against Germany's Simon Gruel, in his first-round match last Monday at the Satch. Fish lost the challenge, but won the match 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

What is the record for challenges in a game? Twelve, set in Thursday night's Federer-Blake match. Blake went 3-for-6 while the Swiss Colossus went 0-for-6.

What's the most obvious challenge you've seen? Thursday night, Navratilova/Bryan-Groenefeld/Cermak. I forget the set or situation or who was serving, but Bob Bryan (who was receiving) was certain a Groenefeld/Cermak ace was out, even stabbing his racket into a mark just off the service line. He asked for the replay and got it. Not only was the ball in, but by a good racket length. Bob had a good laugh about it afterward along with 10,000-odd others.

How much does replay cost? About $40,000 per court per week. Two courts + two weeks = about $160,000. Chump change for the USTA, which brings in millions during the U.S. Open.

How is Hawk-Eye being received overall? Crowds like it because it gives them a chance to play amateur chair ump, but the reviews among players remain mixed. Andy Roddick thinks it's good (though his 0-for-4 record would seem to back his claims to "not being good at it"), but Marat Safin doesn't trust it.

"You have the marks on the court. They're saying it's out. Then you have Hawk-Eye, the ball is in." Jelena Jankovic, who essentially lost her semifinal match on Friday by waffling over whether to use the system, thinks it has given umpires license to fall asleep in the chair. "If he saw the ball was out, he has to make a correction," said Jankovic, who was a point away from going up 4-2 in the second set. But when her first serve was called out, the 21-year-old Serbian chose to goad at umpire Enric Molina for a clearer read on the line call then use her last challenge. She double-faulted and went on to lose the match, 6-4, 4-6, 0-6.

Are there plans to use it in future majors? Australia, after balking at debuting Hawk-Eye this January, will use the system this year and there's talk Wimbledon might, too. Don't expect to see it at Roland Garros, though. The clay marks are holding up just fine.

(Note: Readers are invited to also use Andrew's mailbag for additional comments or questions about Hawk-Eye.)

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