Dubai Duty Free’s position as a world leader in sports will be underlined yet again later this month with the introduction of Hawk-Eye at the $3 million Dubai Tennis Championships.
The revolutionary new line-calling system proved to be a hit with fans when it was used at the US and Australian Opens, but it has rarely been used outside of the Grand Slam events.
Now Dubai tennis fans will have the chance to see the high-tech innovation for themselves as it adds extra excitement to what is already guaranteed to be a spectacular two weeks of tennis.
Hawk-Eye will use a number of dedicated cameras around Centre Court to track the ball with great accuracy, with the ability to determine if a ball is in or out to within a couple of millimeters. Players must challenge immediately if they think a ball is in or out, and the trajectory of the ball and where it landed is then immediately played back on giant screens for everyone to see.
To avoid frivolous challenges, the number that a player can make was limited in the recent Australian Open to two in each set, with an extra challenge allowed if the set went to a tiebreak. However, if the players challenge was correct, that challenge was not deducted from their allowance.
The system has been accepted with enthusiasm by most of the players, as they can relax in the knowledge that they have not been denied an important point by a bad call from the lines-person or umpire.
"I think positive of it," said world number one and Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open 2006 runner-up Maria Sharapova. "I think a majority of the players, and the fans, enjoy it. If you don't want to use it, you don't have to use it. It's your choice. But if there's a doubt in your mind and you want to challenge a call, why not? It's there for you."
Hawk-Eye marks another move by Dubai Duty Free to set new standards, and follows the decision to become one of the first tournaments to offer equal prize money, which is now at US$1.5 million for the Dubai Duty Free Men’s and Women’s Opens.
“The use of Hawk-Eye has added another dimension both for the players, who can now know with certainty that a possibly crucial line-call has been correct, and for the fans, who feel more involved by seeing for themselves how close to the line the ball has landed,” said Colm McLoughlin, Managing Director of Dubai Duty Free.
Play begins at the Dubai Tennis Centre on 19th February with Australian Open winner Serena Williams, defending Dubai champion Justine Henin and US Open winner Maria Sharapova headlining the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event, and continues on 26th February when Rafael Nadal begins his title defence alongside three-time former champion Roger Federer and charismatic Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis.
The Dubai Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and takes place under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
© 2007 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )