wimbledon, 2008

July 9, 2008 at 5:30 am | Posted in aaron d.w., tennis | 1 Comment

for posterity’s sake, i’d like to mention that sunday was one of the greatest days of my life. i got up at 7:30a to watch the wimbledon final between rafael nadal and roger federer. during the first rain delay, i went up to brian and gavin’s house. there’s was a big party, basically. i ate some waffles and then the rain delay was over. we watched a riveting 4th set. i couldn’t believe it. really. then there was a brief rain delay in the 5th set, and i played ping pong outdoors. which is nice because of how much space you have, but also kind of weird because you have to deal with the wind. i typed in “ping pong wind” into google, but it thought i said wind, not wind. like a wind up toy ping pong, pictured below.

when tennis started again, we went back inside and watched a fantastic 5th set that i was sure would spill over into the next day. but by some miracle, nadal broke federer and served out to win. there were so many incredible shots by both of those guys. i was really glad to see federer playing so well, especially considering that according to djokovic, federer was vulnerable after his french open loss.

the main point is that this was more than just the best sporting event i’ve ever been a part of. for probably the only time in my life, i wasn’t disappointed by the athletes i love. i don’t get disappointed in them. disappointment isn’t the right word. but it does make me sad when they don’t play as well as i know they can. in basketball my favorite teams always lose, and they usually lose early. same in everything. but not with this wimbledon. if i’d planned wimbledon out, it might’ve been really close to this. i was glad to see all the early upsets: blake and roddick in the 2nd round; djokovic choking in the 3rd; sharapova in one of those early rounds. and i was really excited to see nadal and federer reach the final so convincingly. nadal only lost a set en route to the final and federer didn’t even drop a set.

so wimbledon is supposedly the most sacred tennis event. i don’t buy into that, but according to people, this wimbledon victory for nadal is the best tennis result spain could hope for. and now spain is trying to do what boston couldn’t… win the championship in 3 major sports. the patriots lost to the giants in last year’s super bowl, so only ended up with 2 championships: the red sox in baseball and the celtics in basketball. basketball, baseball, and football are arguably the most popular american sport and boston is one of the favorite cities, despite a history of racism. but they only got 2 out of 3. i’m trying to think of the top sports worldwide. obviously soccer is number one, and spain just won the uefa final. i think tennis is one of the top 3. and nadal just won two straight majors for spain. maybe basketball is becoming more of a world sport. at least the nba is trying to convince me that it is every chance they get. so all spain needs to do is win basketball in the olympics. and spain will be better than boston. i’m pretty sure most people already think spain is better than boston. except maybe scorsese. that departed movie was awesome.

i found these spanish commercials last week. rafael nadal and pau gasol. the premise is that they’re going to be given these really great watches. but they have to perform some task. after they fail, the lady tells them that they can only have the watches if they give up sports. then they hang out on the beach, making margaritas and telling girls what time it is using their sweet watches.

not the best commercials. i wish nadal would only ones like that commercial from last year’s us open. which reminds me, i’ll be very interested to see how he fares in the us open. he’s on like a 26 match winning streak but has never been able to get it done on hard courts. so maybe this will be the year.

rex chapman for prez

July 2, 2008 at 10:24 pm | Posted in aaron d.w., basketball, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

so it’s an election year and i’ve been thinking about who i should vote for. it’s a really tough decision every time, since i don’t believe in voting, and this year is no different. i’m supposed to be in love with barack obama because i’m a male in my 20’s and he’s supposedly a hip, young, and cool advocate for social change. but i’m not. i mean, obama did play basketball in high school, and i’m a basketball fan. but big deal. the best basketball player i’ve ever personally known named brandon didn’t play basketball in high school, and i don’t think i’d vote for him for president. on the other hand, john mccain is a war vet, just like the sports specter pat tillman. unfortunately for mccain, i don’t believe in war or vets or ghosts. i can vote for nader again, and everyone can just tell me again that it’s a wasted vote. but then brian said that if he gets 5% of the populace vote that he’ll receive federal funding next election. plus, ralph nader founded the league of fans, which is an organization that fights for the rights of sports spectators. (in 2002, nader wrote a letter to david stern addressing the lopsided calling of fouls in that lakers-sacramento game that’s making news again with tim donaghy. for a recent article on nader as a sports fan, click here.) the decision of who to vote for became even harder for me when i realized that i could write in shaq.

as far as i know, shaquille o’neal is not planning on going into politics. he wants to be a police officer or deputy or detective or something. he has a master’s in criminal justice (he brings law and order to the court), so he’s more suited for a run in the judicial system. (actually, his master’s is in business administration.) so he’s not making a push for the presidency this year. but shaq has a charismatic public personality. during interviews he’s always cracking jokes and wearing (top) hats. both things that make you think, “if only he were running for president.” he’s been a consistent figure in public service over the last few years. when he got to miami, he became a u.s. deputy marshal. “I put a lot into it, and when I am done playing, I plan on going undercover and then being the sheriff or chief of police somewhere.” it wasn’t his fault, but he was on the team that served a child porn warrant to the wrong house. and i guess he was also accused of using excessive physical force in questioning a suspect. as a volunteer. but if the miami police department can forgive him, so can i. so then he got traded to the suns. and became a volunteer for the police department out there. nothing scandalous, just good old fashioned volunteer law enforcement. these are the kinds of things that were making me lean towards voting for shaq.

well, up until he got his phoenix volunteer badge and his two miami deputy badges revoked. for swearing. and making fun of kobe. in a free-style rap in new york. a video of the rap showed up on tmz. and now beford says they want their badges back. so where does that leave me? not voting for shaq, that’s for sure. i was going to write him in. i really was. i was telling everyone. but then he swore. and i don’t condone snap judgements, but swearers don’t make good presidents. shaq is going to have to do a lot of good p.r. work in order to get back in the good graces of the american voting public.

so now i’m probably back to voting for nader. but i’m still open to suggestions. especially since rex chapman hasn’t officially withdrawn from his presidential candidacy. by which i mean that he hasn’t said that people shouldn’t write him in. which is a viable option, considering he made this shot once:

so obama better watch out. i bet he’s never made a buzzer beater.

and in tennis news

June 24, 2008 at 11:35 pm | Posted in aaron d.w., basketball, tennis | 2 Comments

the raptors want to trade t.j. ford. they’re ready to go with jose calderon as their point guard. supposedly they were going to trade ford and rasho nesterovic for jermaine o’neal. which i think would have been a mistake. but mostly because i don’t like the pacers and i do like t.j. ford. so if they’re interested in keeping me happy, indiana and toronto made the right move in stopping the negotiations. i’m not a knicks fan or anything, and i’m certainly not a mike d’antoni fan, but i think the knicks should try to get t.j. ford. he could just run all over the place. or i think the hawks should. but they just got mike bibby. or maybe the trailblazers.  as guess as long as he doesn’t land on his neck again i’ll be glad that he’s still playing.  even if he’s playing on a team i don’t like.

deron williams and carlos boozer are on the usa olympic team.  i still think iverson should be on the team, but i’m glad they went with williams.  i think boozer might be an olympic dud, but maybe i’ll be wrong.  even if boozer is on the jazz, he still went to duke, so there’s plenty about him to not like so much.  especially since he never responded to brian’s suggestion that he take on the nickname slambidunkxtrous.

rafael nadal played his opening match of wimbledon this morning against andreas beck.  i kept thinking he was playing against john beck, but i think he wouldn’t have dropped a point against john beck.  or against jon schmidt.  if one of the sets was a piano competition, i still think nadal might win.  i don’t know if nadal has ever played the piano, but i’m sure i’d like him as a piano player.  i’m biased though.  i think i would root for nadal in anything.  and i know that i would root against jon schmidt in everything.  like if he was up against cancer (even just skin cancer) or something, i’d root for cancer.  so nadal won 6-4, 6-4, 7-6.  he didn’t face a break point all day, and was (clearly) totally dominant on his serve.  but his return game left a lot to be desired.  he was on the defense during beck’s service throughout the morning.  only 2 breaks.  anyways, they went to tiebreak in the 3rd set and nadal beat beck 7-0.  it’s just the first round, and it’s not nadal’s favorite surface, so i think he’ll get more return confidence.  his next round matchup is against a big server, so hopefully he figures that out quick.

the williams sisters won.  they both looked really good.  venus was playing really well, i thought.  and serena played in a trenchcoat.  well, she warmed up for like 2 minutes in a trenchcoat and then took it off.  i think that a williams sisters final would be awesome.  i would root for venus.  they’re doing a piece on lindsay davenport.  how she lost to venus in the 2005 final 4-6,7-6,9-7.  then some really touching music came on.  you know, kind of like the where amazing happens music, but more touching.  and it showed davenport’s baby and she said that tennis isn’t her top priority anymore.  i wonder if her baby will be a tennis player.  or a piano player.  i wonder if lindsay davenport has ever met jon schmidt.  somehow that guy is “semi-popular” outside of utah as well.  that’s something i just don’t get.  they just said her husband’s name is jonathan.  makes you wonder.

so federer showed up to wimbledon with a cardigan that has and “F” on the chest.  and it has 5 buttons.  one for every wimbledon championship.  i don’t remember how many buttons his jacket had at the french open.  but i do remember how many french open championships he has.  dis.  anyways, i like federer.  i don’t get why everyone thinks that he’s struggling so much.  so he lost to djokavic in the australian open and to nadal in the french open.  big deal.  djokavic is playing really well and nadal is the best clay-court player ever.  so coming into wimbledon everyone was talking about how this is the year because federer is on the way down.  but he hasn’t lost a grass court match since like 2004 or something.  i think 60 straight grass court matches.  not only is federer probably the best tennis player in history, he’s for sure the best grass court player in history.  so i don’t know what people are talking about.  i mean, i think nadal is going to make him work for it.  if they face off in the final, i’m hoping for another match like last year’s.  but still, it’s federer.  and he’s the one to beat.  but even if you’re roger federer, you don’t have to buy into how you’re supposed to wear something classy to wimbledon.  wimbledon dress-code is worse than the nba dress-code which is racist.  wimbledon tries to make you remember that you’re not supposed to play tennis unless you’re rich.  i guess you don’t play wimbledon unless you’re rich.  or rather, as soon as you win wimbledon you’re rich.  and then you can buy cardigans to wear.  so despite everyone worrying about roger’s focus and his abilities, he cruised to victory in the first round.  i don’t want to look up the score.  he won in an hour and 19 minutes.

oh yeah, and sharapova won.  her dog gave her the signal to eat a banana partway through the second set.

the future of tennis

June 9, 2008 at 8:56 am | Posted in aaron d.w., tennis | 1 Comment

this morning rafael nadal and roger federer fittingly faced off in the final of the french open. (i know alliteration impresses brian, and i want him to think that i’m a decent writer.) this is the third straight year where nadal and federer played each other in the final. the year before, nadal beat federer in the semifinal. last year rafael nadal didn’t drop any sets on the way to the final before beating roger federer 3-1. then in wimbledon federer won 3-2 in one of the most incredible matches i’ve ever watched. so this year i figured would be a close one. both federer and nadal were playing the best clay court tennis of their careers. federer had only dropped 3 sets before the final and nadal had again not lost any. the match wasn’t close at all. nadal got an early lead and broke federer twice in the first set to win it 6-1. roger f. was down 2-0 in the second set and put together a good twenty minutes of tennis with some stunning winners to tie it up at 2-2. each held serve and then rafael n. went crazy, winning the next 9 games to finish the match in around 2 hours.

i figured the match would last a lot longer. i’d planned my whole morning around watching tennis and found myself with a lot of free time. luckily, there was another competition going on: robonaut vs. athlete.

vs.

robonaut is a humanoid robot designed by nasa to be able to perform extra-vehicular activities (i.e. space-walks). it has a torso shaped like a human with arms and hands and a helmet that looks like boba fett. the helmet has two eyes, so that visual relays can provide depth. the arms have a total of 14 degrees of freedom each: 2 in each wrist and 12 in each hand. this gives the robonaut a surprising amount of dexterity, which in turn enables robonaut to perform tasks that were not designed to be handled by robots. the size of the hands is roughly the same size as a suited astronauts hands, so robonaut can get to those hard-to-reach areas (much like a nice toothbrush). the torso can be placed in a number of lower “bodies” depending on the required task. the two that i’ve seen is the segway robonaut where he has a segway for legs and the centaur robonaut where he “sits” on a 4-wheeler of sorts.

athlete is a six-legged robotic lunar rover. athlete stands for All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorer. the athlete is 4 meters in diameter and can stand 6 meters tall. each of the six legs has six degrees of freedom. athlete can roll along or walk, depending on the terrain, and is capable of sustaining a load of 450 kg. multiple athletes can be docked together to form what some call ultrathlete, which i can only imagine stands for Ultimate Laterally-TetheRed All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorers. it can move over 10 kmh on terrain like that of the moon, 100 times faster than the mars rover, and can climb 35 degree inclines of rocks.

the competition of interest is a race up to the top of a hill in a crater in arizona, which is essentially a simulation of robot racing on the moon or on mars, which will become widely popular in the late 21st century.

the competitors arrived early. athlete on the left, robonaut in the middle, k-10 on the right with scout right behind k-10. the suited astronaut was the ref.

after a brief rain delay, k-10, robonaut and athlete are ready to go. robonaut shows off his dexterity with a little bit of a cheap move, tying athlete to an anchored stake.

with robonaut and athlete busy battling each other, k-10 heads for the hill,

and then remembers that it is not capable of climbing hills. with athlete tied to a stake, robonaut takes off up the hill.

athlete finally breaks loose and heads for the steepest part of the hill, in hopes of cutting off robonaut’s path.

athlete passes robonaut, since hill-climbing is its strong-suit. but robonaut has some more tricks up his sleeve. he hooks a tether-line to athlete and catches a ride during the last quarter of the hill.

robonaut takes advantage of its understanding of the slingshot maneuver to swing past athlete for the victory. robonaut wins and gets its picture taken with athlete.

but what robonaut didn’t know is that there was no prize. they give robonaut a box with the label “trophy” and robonaut opens it up, only to be embarrassed in front of all its friends.

looks like athlete gets the last laugh. (that was for brian again.)

they hate our freedom

June 7, 2008 at 12:21 am | Posted in aaron d.w., tennis | Leave a comment

i got on tennis.com last night to check what time today’s matches started. the two matches today are nadal-djokavic and federer-monfils. so i wanted to set my alarm and wake up early to watch. nadal is the world number two and he’s the three-time french open champion who has never lost a match at the french open. in fact, he hasn’t even dropped a set in this year’s french open. on the other hand, djokavic is the world number three who won the australian open and has won more matches in the last year than anyone else. the winner of this match will be the world number two and will be playing in the french open final. i only saw half a set by monfils and i thought he was fast and looked cool, but brian said that he’s got a great game. so i obviously wanted to get up and watch. i know the matches start early in the french open, and tennis.com said that at 10:00a eastern time the tennis channel was going to start broadcasting. i woke up at 8:00a mountain time and turned on the tv. there was nothing on. so i got online to see when the games would start only to find out that the nadal-djokavic match was already over. what a joke. not only do i have to wait for 2 hours before i can watch tennis, but one of the matches i was interested in watching was already over and i had already seen the result: nadal in 3 sets. nadal is in the final and he still hasn’t lost a set.

i had two hours to kill. so i did the only sensible thing. i read about the september 11th attacks on the world trade center and the pentagon. did you know that there were large (and lethal) amounts of asbestos in lower manhattan for a few months? there’s been over 60 people associated with the cleanup effort that have died of cancer. oh yeah, and the air had been declared safe without testing it first.

so it’s finally 10:00a and tennis is on. maybe they’ll just skip the nadal-djokavic match so i can watch monfils and federer before i have to go up to school. nope. they’re going to show the nadal-djokavic match. if only i hadn’t already seen online. that’s okay. nadal is my favorite player and i don’t like djokavic, so it’ll be worth it to see him get killed.

it’s tied 1-1 and nadal has advantage. he’s already had 4 break chances this match. and he hits this incredible backhand winner to go up. so he’s up 2-1 now. game four, nadal is serving but down 15-30 and hits another backhand winner. 30-30. another winner, this time a forehand. 40-30. passing shot for the game.

now they’re talking about nadal’s foot and knee problems. apparently he’s a size 11 1/2 but wears size 10. no wonder i always think his feet look so small. djokavic comes to the net twice in a row. first time gets a volley winner. second time nadal loops it over him. 15-15. unforced error djokavic. 15-30. “You have 10-story buildings that leave more debris than these two 100-story towers, Where the fuck is everything? A serious week-long search and we’ve found 200 [bodies] in a pile of 5,000? What’s going on? Where is everyone? Why aren’t we finding more bodies? Cause it’s all vaporized — turned to dust. We’re breathing people in that dust.” Mercedes commercial. the game must’ve finished while i was reading. it doesn’t matter, i already know nadal will win the set (and the match). djokavic won. nadal’s up 3-2 and serving.

i just read this page: a critical review of morgan reynold’s “why did the trade center’s skyscrapers collapse?”

and now nadal is up 5-4 and 40-30. set point. first serve fault. second serve unforced error by djokavic. prediction: nadal will win 6-4, 6-2, 7-6. so i have to leave now. maybe i’ll tape the monfils match. and not look online. i already saw that they were tied after 2 sets. good for monfils.

better than a win

January 7, 2008 at 2:12 am | Posted in aaron d.w., basketball, tennis | 1 Comment

last night ben wallace went 1-6 from the free throw line, 0-3 from the floor and won the game for the bulls 94-93.  he got fouled with the score tied and with like 30 seconds or something left and made one his two free throws to take the lead.  then on the next play he blocked brad miller’s shot and the game was over.  so the piece i read was talking about how the block wasn’t surprising but the free throw was.  after all, ben wallace is a 4-time defensive player of the year and a career 41.9% free throw shooter.  apparently he airballed one of his free throws.  but if he’s a 41.9% free throw shooter, then it shouldn’t be surprising if he makes 41.9% of his free throws.  that’s to be expected right?  so i’m more surprised that he missed 5 free throws.  i would have expected him to make 2 or even 3 of his free throws.  so i guess making only 1 free throw is surprising, but not in the way that andrew seligman means.  wallace.jpgi like what ben wallace said about it best.  “i already had some practice shots, so i needed to make one.  the laws of physics, eventually one is going in.”  at first i thought that he actually meant the law of expected values in probability.  but i recently read fabric of the cosmos by brian greene and so i think about physics a lot more now.  in a quantum mechanics kind of way, ben wallace is right.  when he shoots his free throws, there’s a 41.9% chance that the electrons, quarks, taus, neutrinos, photons, higgs bosons, W and Z bosons, and muons (and possibly gravitons) will all align or move in such a way that he’ll make his free throw.  not a great probability, i admit.  but the point is that it will happen sometimes.  and most likely it’ll happen more than 1 out of 6 times.  in addition, it’s impossible for ben to really predict the effects of all of the observing (photons from the stadium lights and cameras, sound waves from the crowd, other electromagnetic waves in the arena, the higgs field, people watching) that is happening at a basketball game.  so it’s kind of out of his hands whether his free throws go in or out.  but he tries his best.  i’m just glad he understands that he can only determine the probability that the situation will occur in such a way that he makes his free throws. that he gets it is way more important than winning that game.
rafael nadal lost to mikhail youzhny in the chennai final.  people are wondering about his fitness level (he played like a 4 hour match less than 24 hours before the final), but i’m wondering how long he’s going to keep his sweet beard.nadal.jpg

soccer, the way the pros play

November 21, 2007 at 12:41 am | Posted in aaron d.w., football (soccer) | Leave a comment

i recently bought this book at the library book sale and it’s changing the way i play and watch soccer. what i didn’t realize before i got the book is how soccer really is for everybody. the book includes pictures of “some of the smallest” players (kids), “passing by a girl,” and “a middle-aged man” just to show me how soccer is the sport that everyone can play. but the thing that really gave me some insight was the passage on a professional soccer player’s sex life. i hope it’s not illegal to post what it says verbatim; that is, i hope i don’t get caught if it is illegal. the book is called “soccer: the way the pros play” by robert herbin and j. ph. rethacker.

SEX LIFE

Free and liberated sex is in style today! We shall say a few words about it, even though we consider this problem to be a minor one. Yet it is undeniable that a harmonious and balanced sex life cannot help but improve the psychological stability of athletes, just as it does for other individuals.

It is also obvious that a soccer player whowishes to do well on the field and be helpful both to himself and his team cannot lead a loose and maladjusted life without risking the effectiveness of both his immediate and long-range performances. Neither will he choose the night before a match to prove his virility and demonstrate his amorous prowess. What really matters, in effect, is less the act itself than thte manner of perorming it and the context in which it is done. Suffice it to say that the expenditure of energy involved in a “classic” sexual act is minimal and should not in any way affect the performance on the field the next day. The criterion should be one’s common sense. At times a night begun this way can be beneficial, thanks to the relaxation it brings.

we can finally start speculating which players are continually proving their virility and which players just have “classic” sex. i think beckham gets too crazy the night before a game. that’s why he keeps getting injured.

utah juniors #6

October 1, 2007 at 11:46 am | Posted in aaron d.w., football (american) | Leave a comment

this is pretty late and no longer interesting (if it ever was), but the only university of utah football game that i’ve been to in my whole life has been the best one this year — the one where they killed u.c.l.a.  every game fight has ever been to they’ve lost.  i don’t want to say that all the ones i’ve been to they’ve won because i’ve only been to one.  and most likely is doesn’t have any impact.

red_6.jpgso i got to the game and i was ready to be a pretty passive football fan.  i have a hard time getting really into sporting events unless ostertag is playing.  then i yell things like, “i love you, ostertag!!” when it’s quiet because he’s shooting free throws.  when i got there the marching band was playing and i was wishing that i’d gotten there later.  then they sang the national anthem and i really regretted not getting there later.  so during the national anthem one of the security guards (of sorts) came over and told the kid next to me to take his hat off.  the kid asked if he had to, and the security guy said that if he respected the flag he had to.  so the kid told the guard that his grandfather fought in world war 2 in order to insure that his grandkids could wear baseball caps whenever they want and to stop fascism like making people take hats off.  the security guy left pretty upset.  so during the 2nd quarter he got the mascot to come over and take off the kid’s hat and throw it to someone else in the crowd.  after his stunt he gave a thumbs up to the security guard and left.  i was getting pretty excited because i always have these sorts of face-offs with mascots and i thought it would soon lead to that.  instead, the kid next to me went to the head security office and reported the security guy.  five minutes later the guard was replaced and we didn’t see him anymore.  i wanted to give the mascot a thumbs up, but he didn’t look at me.

utah-juniors.jpgthe other best thing about the game is that i wore this shirt that i bought at the d.i. earlier in the week.  it’s red with the number 6 on front and back and on front it says utah juniors.  so i thought it would be funny to wear.  when i got there i borrowed a program from somebody and looked up #6 so i’d know who my favorite player obviously was.  turns out his name is mack.  i told my friend nathan that mack is my favorite player and  he informed me that #6 was the starting running back after the season-ending injury from two weeks before.  then as it happened, mack played really great and scored like 2 touchdowns or something.  every time he did something i pretended like he really was my favorite player and that i’d worn the shirt to support him.  i would hold up the number and jump around when he scored so the people around me would know that i knew all along that he’s a star.  it worked even better than i imagined and i soon became his #1 fan.  i was sort of the leader of all the mack fans.  at one point i started chanting “big mack, big mack” and the cheer caught on in the whole section around me.  and i was probably the only one there who thought the chant was more of a burn than anything.  but i pretended that i like big macs and #6 mack equally.

hey wimbledon

August 30, 2007 at 11:57 pm | Posted in aaron d.w., tennis | Leave a comment

roger federer won yesterday while playing in all black.

roger federer

it’s a good look for him, but i still wish he’d play in his air-travel outfit.

rog fed

i know that i was really looking forward to another federer-nadal final, since the wimbledon final was the best sporting event i’ve watched on television besides that boise state game. but i don’t know if it’s going to happen. rafael nadal is still my favorite player and you can’t count him out, but he’s having some knee troubles. in fact, he said if it wasn’t the last tournament of the year, he would have already withdrawn. i hope a federer-nadal final does happen though. especially because i think wimbledon should take a clue from how awesome people look that are not dressed in all white. it’s the future right now and wimbledon needs to get on board.

hawk-eye vs. the board of education

August 20, 2007 at 8:28 am | Posted in aaron d.w., tennis | Leave a comment

the men’s tournament in cincinnati and the women’s tournament in toronto both ended today. roger federer beat american james blake 6-1, 6-4 without very much trouble while justine henin beat jelena jankovic 7-6(3), 7-5 in what was probably in the top 10 matches of tennis that i’ve personally watched. henin was down 4-1 in the first set before coming back and winning in a tiebreak. in the second set, jankovic was down 15-40 in two of her services before winning 5 straight points for a win. they were tied at 5-5 when they had the best game of the day. that game saw 9 deuces before henin finally won.

so with cincinnati and toronto done, men’s and women’s tennis are ready to begin the US Open. the US open was the first open event to adopt the use of hawk-eye to decide questionable line calls. this will be the third year that the hawk-eye system is present at the US open.

when a call is challenged by one of the players, the hawk-eye system provides an animation which shows where the ball supposedly landed. there has been some controversy over the last year. in Dubai, there was a call that was challenged and ruled in, but the ball mark was clearly out. then in the Wimbledon final, Nadal challenged a call and it was ruled in. the television replay showed that it was out by at least 2 cm.

dsc01999.jpgme, brian and gavin were talking about hawk-eye (called spot shot on espn) and how we don’t understand how it works or how accurate it is. with all of the controversy we were confused as to why there were never any presentations done during breaks in matches to explain how the hawk-eye system works and what the margin of error is.

the hawk-eye system was invented by a dr. paul hawkins. he later founded hawk-eye innovations which is a company with 38 employees centered in the UK. dr. paul hawkins was a cricket player as a youth and he originally hawkeye1.jpgdesigned it to help television audiences see whether a ball that hit a batter would have hit the wicket or not. in tennis matches where hawk-eye is used, there are 10 cameras that take readings every frame on the positions of the ball and the lines. the composition of the data on position collected by the 10 cameras is used to determine the 3 dimensional position of the ball in each frame. then all the different positions are put together to give a continuous trajectory of the ball. the trajectory of the ball is then used to complete the picture of where the ball touched the ground.

sounds pretty good. so why the controversy? on the hawk-eye website, they give explanations for both Dubai and Wimbledon. they provide some good arguments, but they gloss over the controversy and dismiss any counter-arguments as absurd. also, on their website they claim that the hawk-eye was 100% accurate with an average error of 3.6mm in the ITF testing which took place over the course of one day back in 2006. statistics that good make anybody a little bit suspicious.

rfederer.jpgthe most famous critic of the hawk-eye system is roger federer. “It’s a weird thing I still don’t trust 100 percent, I probably never will.” he says that he would rather just have the line judges. “I think they do an excellent job – I wouldn’t want to be sitting on that line. I just get disappointed when they miss shocking (calls). But that can happen too.” so why does federer use challenges if he doesn’t trust hawk-eye? “why not challenge? I would kill myself if it was in and I had not challenged.” also, after the Roger’s Cup, he admitted that one of the times he challenged not because he thought the line judges made a mistake but because he thought the maybe hawk-eye would make a mistake in his favor.

rnadal.jpgit turns out rafael nadal isn’t such a big fan either. “The shit machine is not working never. Always using the machine, it’s having lots of mistakes, so ATP has to check that.”

i think the hawk-eye system is pretty cool overall. but i see the problems with it and i think hawk-eye should just own up to the fact that it’s very accurate but not 100% accurate. and maybe until it gets better (with high speed cameras?), i’ll side with rafael and roger that it doesn’t do all the wonderful things that everyone says.

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