Instant replay is closer to coming to tennis. Exactly when and how isn't clear. The International Tennis Federation approved the latest version of Hawk-Eye Officiating after testing last week, and the ATP and WTA tours are looking into which tournaments might use electronic line-calling and the specifics of what the rules will be.
"If it's accurate, then I'm for it," six-time major semifinalist Tim Henman said at the Madrid Masters on Monday.
The pro tours say most players support the idea — 79 percent, according to a survey at an ATP players meeting in March — although some, such as Roger Federer and Lindsay Davenport, have said they're against replay.
"To be honest, I think tournaments are going to put their hands up and say, 'Me! Me! Me!'" ATP spokesman David Higdon said in a telephone interview. "But we're certainly not going to roll it out until we have full confidence that it's right."
The Hawk-Eye system, which has been used during television broadcasts, didn't meet ITF approval when it auditioned in July.
But that's changed.
"We have seen significant improvements in the system," ITF technical manager Stuart Miller said in a statement released by the federation.
Spurred in part by a series of questionable calls during a quarterfinal between Jennifer Capriati and Serena Williams at the 2004 U.S. Open, the U.S. Tennis Association considered implementing a replay system at this year's tournament. And the ATP planned to try electronic line-calling at the Cincinnati Masters in August.
Those proposals were dropped after Hawk-Eye's July test.
Now, it appears that replay could show up on the tours in 2006, although many in the sport share USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier's sentiment: "At this point," he said, "we still feel more testing needs to be done."
Eventually, it could be up to individual tournaments to decide whether they want to use the technology to help umpires review calls during matches. The ITF recommended that tournaments do their own testing at their stadiums before using Hawk-Eye Officiating, in part because the tool could work differently depending on the surface or setting (indoors vs. outdoors, for example).
Another big question is whether the ATP, WTA and ITF — which oversees Grand Slam tournaments — will agree on how to use replay.
If the technology had been tried in Cincinnati, Higdon said, the chair umpire could have consulted a replay official, who would tell the umpire if a ball was in or out. There would not have been a limit to the number of challenges a player could request, and there wouldn't have been a penalty — such as the lost timeout in the NFL — if a questioned call turned out to be correct.
"We were eager to do it this past year and we just weren't ready," Higdon said. "We've done further testing, and it's ready, and we're eager to implement it at the first ideal possibility we can find."
Instead of using a separate replay official, the WTA has discussed having the chair umpire be able to check replays on a hand-held or tablet computer. That would be "much more efficient and much more fan-friendly and player-friendly," said David Shoemaker, the WTA's chief legal officer and COO-designate.
"We're very eager to have line-calling assistance at our events, as are players, but we want to do it under the right scenario with the right level of comfort with all things," Shoemaker said. "It's difficult to speculate exactly how soon that would be."
Andy Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion and former No. 1, has said he'd like to see instant replay in tennis because it would improve officiating — and make the sport more interesting to fans.
"It would add to the drama," Roddick said in August. "I just don't see a lot of factors against it. It could really add to the game and take out the human-error aspect, which is out there."
AP Sports Writer Stephan Nasstrom in Madrid contributed to this report.