Novak Djokovic has staged talks with both the president and the CEO of the ATP after complaints from players about the different tennis balls on tour. The likes of Stan Wawrinka and Ben Shelton are among those who aren’t happy with the balls changing every week, claiming they have caused injuries. But Djokovic’s conversations have proven to be positive, as the world No 1 revealed that ATP bosses would be holding meetings to address the issue.
Changing tennis balls are still causing a storm across the sport, with multiple players calling on bosses to cut down on the number of different balls used across every tournament. After weeks of seeing his rivals complain about the balls, Djokovic may have finally forced the hand of the ATP by speaking with two top bosses.
“I actually just had the conversation with Andrea Gaudenzi, president of ATP, and Massimo [Calvelli], the CEO,” the 24-time Grand Slam champion said at this week’s Paris Masters. “Because I haven’t been on the tour for quite some time, so I haven’t had a chance to talk to them.”
The world No 1 recently spent six weeks away from the tennis court after skipping the Asian swing and learned of the issues by speaking to his colleagues. He continued: “Of course I have seen the comments that more and more players were making about the balls that were used on different tournaments.
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“Actually, Korda, the player that I practised with today, told me that this is fifth tournament now in a row that he’s been playing with different balls. Yeah, this inconsistency is an issue, and that’s what most of the players, and also of course including myself, we complain about.”
And Djokovic agreed with his rivals’ cries, explaining that using the same balls would eliminate extra injury woes. “You know, I think there needs to be a bit more consistency with the balls so that we avoid any kind of issues with wrists and elbows and shoulders,” he added.
“The quality of the balls, you know, this is something that again, it’s very relative to the player. Different players play different styles. They like different balls, depending on the surface, et cetera.” Djokovic’s discussions with the ATP figureheads appear to have made a difference, as the 36-year-old revealed that the tour was set to hold meetings about the tennis balls.
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He added: “But I think that there is actually quite an understanding from Andrea and Massimo about the players’ comments and the issues that players have been communicating basically through media, as well. As I understood, there is going to be some board meetings happening soon where they will discuss the different options and things they could do.
“But I think overall, it’s just, it would be nice for players that there is a consistency. So, for example, if you have a clay court swing prior to Roland Garros, that you play with the same ball. As well as other surfaces and other swings.” However, the 96-time title winner knew it wouldn’t be that simple.
“Hopefully that’s going to be the case. There’s obviously a lot of factors that are going to be in play in order to make this change,” he said. “It’s not easy because you have to think about the tournaments and the brands, you know, manufacturing facilities that are owned by the brands or some use as a third party.
“So there is a lot of different elements in play that need to be discussed commercially but also functionally for us. But for the players obviously we are not thinking too much about commercial aspect as much as the functional and what is important for us in order to improve or prevent any kind of issues with injuries.”
Stan Wawrinka recently reignited the debate when he posted a photo of four different types of balls used over the last four weeks. Daniil Medvedev had also voiced his concerns while competing in Vienna last week while Ben Shelton took to Instagram to write: “Usually don’t have arm issues, but 5th tournament in a row playing with a different ball. I’m definitely feelin’ it this week.”
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