Grand Slam Board releases list of possible rule changes for 2018 season

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Grand Slam Board releases list of possible rule changes for 2018 season

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SportsCafe Desk


The 2017 season has given the Grand Slam Board a lot to ponder upon and they have released a list of changes after their meeting, in London, that could be enforced in 2018. A major change would be the players being penalized if they decide to withdraw just before a tournament or in the first round.

The meeting in London, on Tuesday, was attended by representatives from all four majors of the year. While Jayne Hrdlicka and Kartina M. Adams represented the Australian and US Opens, Bernard Giudicelli and Phillip Brook represented Rolland Garros and Wimble don respectively.

It has been a vital rule in professional tennis that for a player to get paid, he or she has to actually play a match. However, the 2017 season has seen instances of players using the rule as a loophole to get the money despite coming into a tournament with pre-existing injuries and then hobble off the court after a set or even before that.

The player who withdraws from the tournament in the first round will split the prize money evenly with the so-called lucky loser - the player who lost in the final round of the qualifying draw. This rule has been suggested to ensure that the integrity of the competition in the first round of their events is not compromised.

In the recent general meeting it has been decided that the four Grand Slams are considering a rule wherein, “Any Main Draw single players 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 percent of the prize money normally given to first-round losers,” reported a press release.

Not only that, but any player who now competes in the Singles First Main Draw and retires early or produces performances that are below professional standards will be subjected to a fine as well. Players will also face a fine of up to $20,000 if they are not ready to play seven minutes after they walk on court at next year's Grand Slams.

This comes mainly after the famous Bernard Tomic incident at Wimbledon, when the Australian had shocked the world by crediting his clumsy first-round loss against Alexander Zverev to being ‘bored’ and him ‘simply not being there’. It had created a massive furore with many claiming that he should hand back his $60,000 (£35,000) prize money as a result of his clear lack of effort.

It is not a stand-alone instance though. In Wimbledon, Martin Klizan's retirement against Djokovic and Alexandr Dolgopolov's decision to quit against Federer came on a day when only seven sets of competitive tennis were completed on Centre Court. This led to the fans, who had bought tickets, being left frustrated after seeing just seven sets of tennis being played across four matches. 

The Grand Slam Board has also stated that it has come up with the idea of changing the rules on seedings from 2019, where they will cut the number by half at the four major Grand Slams - from 32 to 16.

"The 2018 Grand Slam tournaments will continue with 32 seeds in singles and intend to revert to 16 seeds in 2019," read the press release.

19-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has been in favour of this idea. The Swiss ace has stated that it would be an "interesting" alteration as it would make things more competitive. The board, however, will wait for a year before its implementation as they see how others react to it.

Another agreement has been the introduction of a shot clock for the majors. The season-opening Australian Open has been granted permission to enforce a 25-second time limit on serves as a trial outside the main draw next year. This could make life difficult for some players who are popular for their pre-serving antics that often breaks opponents’ concentration. 

"It was unanimously agreed to support 2018 Australian Open's application to the ITF for a waiver of the 20 seconds between points required by the Rules of Tennis, in order to allow for enforcement of a strict 25 seconds utilizing a "serve/shot-clock" system in line with the trialled at the 2017 US Open," the release further added.

"The timing of the pre-match warm-up will be strictly enforced (1 minute after walk-on to be ready for the pre-match meeting, followed by the 5-minute warmup, then one minute to be ready for the start of the match). Violation of this timing mayt subject a player to a fine upto $20000."

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