It gave the players much more peace of mind when close calls occurred, probably made linesmen and lineswoman all the more alert, and assisted umpires in their line of duty. Until the Davis Cup final between Russia and Argentina, however, the “limited challenge” system was in effect. Players were allowed two incorrect challenges a set. It placed a burden on them to be strategic in their protests, to make sure they did not run out of opportunities to challenge calls they felt were wrong. But in the Cup final, the players were allowed unlimited appeals, and they did not abuse the system in the least. After watching the “unlimited challenge” system with Hawkeye and comparing it to the limited, I came away convinced that the unlimited system is the way to go.
Why? Because the more that bad calls can be erased and rectified, the better it is for the game and the players. Some authorities who were understandably concerned initially that some players would overdue their appeals and “slow the game down” too much were wrong in my view. Players like Marat Safin and David Nalbandian clearly did not want to go haywire and challenge every close call. They remained relatively cautious about when and where to make their cases. The reason was simple. The players have discovered all year that they can often be wrong, and they do not want to be embarrassed in front of large crowds who would be ready to boo vociferously whenever they felt a player was stepping beyond his bounds. So the hope here is that the unlimited challenge system will become the rule rather than the exception. The game would be far better for it.