Tennis; The ATP and WTA will review the use of different balls around the world

The two major tennis tours have announced a “strategic review” of balls used in tournaments ahead of the Australian Open as complaints continue from players about the impact on injuries of the constant ball changes at events around the world.

Concerns have been voiced from a suite of the world’s best players including 10-time Australian Open champ Novak Djokovic and injured Australian star Nick Kyrgios about the differences in balls used around the world.

Djokovic was adamant the balls used at the United Cup played a role in a wrist issue, which he looks to have recovered from in time to chase an 11th win in Melbourne.

Kyrgios responded to Djokovic’s complaint declaring players “suffer all the time” by changing balls which can be harder and softer around the world.

Australian veteran John Millman, who will retire after the Open, did a review of the balls to be used at Melbourne Park last month and found them to show “significant wear when they age” and suggested they could “rough up” on the show courts.

The balls for this year’s Open have again been manufactured by Dunlop, while each of the four majors as well as ATP tour events do their own business on ball use with various sponsons, ensuring frequent change across the season.

Acknowledging it as an issue, both the ATP and WTA conceded that created “potential inconsistencies of balls used week-on-week” and vowed to work towards a “more centralised approach”.

“Historically, each individual tournament has had the ability to determine its own ball supplier or sponsor, leading to potential inconsistencies of balls used week-on-week,” a joint statement said.

“The intention is to now move towards a more consistent and centralised approach by ATP and WTA. The goal is to deliver greater ball consistency within tournament swings for players, and tighter certification and specification requirements for an enhanced end-product, while not adversely affecting revenue streams for tournaments.”

The chairman of the ATP, Andrea Gaudenzi, said balls, and match scheduling, with changes set to impact the amount of night games, where “priority topics on our agenda”.

“It’s imperative that we evolve and adapt to the demands of the modern game, particularly where player health and fan experience are concerned,” he said.

“We’re optimistic about the impact we can make on both these fronts, now and in the longer term.”

Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO, said they had listened to player feedback and wanted to act.

“We feel it is important that these initiatives are fully aligned between the two Tours and will allow for athletes to perform at their highest levels, providing for an improved athlete and fan experience,” he said.

“The athlete’s direct feedback in co-operation with our event members has been terrific in allowing us to continue modernising our sport.”

Changes to scheduling will limit tournaments to a maximum of two night games to reduce late finishes.

The Australian Open introduced an extra day of play for this year;s tournament in the hopes of avoiding a similar issue.

Read related topics:Nick Kyrgios

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