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[Yes, I know the ball can be in without touching the line if it’s on the inside, just couldn’t think of a better, succinct title.]

Currently, the Nordea Open clay tournament is being played in Båstad, Sweden. They have a Hawkeye challenge system in place, of the ‘real bounce’ type where you see a super-slow-motion black-and-white shot of the ball landing, recorded by an actual camera, rather than just computer graphics.

A couple of days ago, I was watching a match (I think it was Albot vs Rune, but I’m not sure), and one of the players challenged a close call.

The slow-replay showed quite clearly that even at the maximum point of contact – when the ball is compressed the most vertically and has its widest horizontal area of contact with the ground – no part of the ball actually touched the line. It was equally clear from the side shot, however, that the ‘outermost’ part of the ball as a whole was right above the very edge of the line.

In other words, if viewed from above, the circular outline of the ball would obscure perhaps a millimetre of the line; but when viewed from the side, you could see that the part that obscured the line was not in contact with the ground.

Based on the slow-replay, I assumed that the ball would be called out, but it was in fact called in, and the simplified graphic showing the outline of the ball and the line showed the ball as just obscuring part of the line (as if seen from above, not the side).

All references I can find, such as Official Tennis Rules, specifically mention the ball touching or hitting the line, which in this instance it did not.

So on what basis was the ball called in by the VAR system here, then? Does ‘touch’ in practice actually refer to obscuring from above (whether or not there’s physical contact)?

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    IIRC Hawkeye is acknowledged to not be perfect and you'll have to check the tournament rules on the usage of VAR and whether the chair has the authority to overrule it. – pboss3010 Jul 15 at 19:16
  • Hawkeye is also usually not used on clay - unless that's changed in the last year or so. – Joe Jul 16 at 23:11
  • @Joe The commentators were talking about there being some difference between tournaments, with the French Open not using it, but Nordea Open opting to use it, so I think it’s on its way in on clay. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 19 at 8:04

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