Grand Slams to revert to 16 seeds as Australian Open 2018 introduces shot clock
22 November, 2017, 11:19
- A 25-second serve clock will be tried out at the Australian Open in January, but like at this year's U.S. Open, not during main-draw matches.
The Australian Open will use a 25-second shot clock and players may be fined for retiring or performing "below professional standards" in the first round of Grand Slams from next season.
Speaking on the issue back in August, the 16-time Grand Slam victor warned over the impact that the use of shot clocks would have on the entertainment value of matches at major events.
Currently, Grand Slams have a 20-second time limit between points though shot clocks aren't used to enforce this limit.
Any Main Draw singles player who is unfit to play and who withdraws on-site after 12:00 noon on Thursday before the start of the Main Draw will now receive 50% of the First Round Prize Money in 2018.
A series of rule changes and innovations were tested at this month's ATP Finals in Milan, featuring the world's top 21-and-under singles players including a shorter warm-up, the shot clock and no line judges.
Meanwhile, tennis chiefs have also chose to reduce the number of seeds from 32 to 16 for the men's and women's main draw at the sport's four Majors in an attempt to make the early rounds of the competitions more competitive, leaving the possibility that higher-ranked players could meet before the last 16.
Next year's Slams will retain the 32-seed format that came into effect in 2001, but from 2019 on the top-ranked players may find themselves facing much tougher opposition earlier in events.
The Grand Slam Board said in a statement that the serving-time changes had been agreed unanimously. "I do see the problem of the 32 seeds, plus you have eight seeds who get byes at Masters 1000 [events]".
The Australian Open will be more specific than the current grey area, allocating players one minute to walk on and be ready for the umpire's briefing at the net, followed by a five-minute knock-up, plus one minute to prepare for the first point.
-Players who violate the pre-match timing will also be fined up to $20,000. Their replacement will receive the remaining 50 per cent plus any additional prizes earned.
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