Shadows cause problem with challenge system at Australia Open

Updated: January 19, 2008, 12:04 AM ET
Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Technology used for player challenges of line calls at one of the Australian Open's two main arenas is being turned off at selected times because shadows are affecting its accuracy.

Tournament director Craig Tiley said the Hawkeye system doesn't work properly at Vodafone Arena on sunny days when shade crosses the court between approximately 4:45 and 5:45 p.m.

"In light of the fact that Hawkeye cannot guarantee 100 percent accuracy, 100 percent of the time, we will not use the Hawkeye system during this time," at the Vodafone Arena, Tiley said. "The players will be informed when Hawkeye is not working."

The problem was not an issue Saturday when steady rain forced the Vodafone Arena roof to be closed and there were no shadows to affect play.

Vodafone Arena is using the Hawkeye technology for challenges for the first time this year. Last year, it was used only on the center court at Rod Laver Arena, where there have been no reported problems this year.

Under tournament regulations, players are allowed three incorrect challenges per set, with an extra one if it goes to a tiebreaker.

Australian Peter Luczak said he noticed some problems during his second-round loss to David Nalbandian at Vodafone on Thursday.

"He (Nalbandian) was getting a little bit frustrated because the Hawkeye wasn't in play for some reason," Luczak said. "It doesn't work when the shadow is halfway across the court."

Ana Ivanovic of Serbia was affected by it during her first-round win over Sonara Cirstea.

"It's not unreasonable to expect that the technology works properly," Ivanovic said. "When it breaks down it throws your concentration. My opponent was causing me enough problems without me worrying whether the device is working properly."

Tiley said technicians were working on the problem.

"There is a period between 30 and 45 minutes when there's a large shadow going across the entire court and they cannot guarantee the minimum accuracy we require," Tiley said.

"We've made the decision, until they've fixed this technical issue, that the tournament chooses not to have Hawkeye on during that period. The players are told about it during the match, or in some cases we don't put the match on until the shadow is off.

"On Wednesday we held a match for 15 minutes so it wasn't an issue at all."

Tiley said the shadow is large and covers the whole court.

"We don't have this problem on Rod Laver Arena, and there are shadows out there, too," Tiley said. "It's just the nature and the darkness of the shadow and the height of the roof which are contributing factors."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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