ATP, WTA Introduce Rules to Limit Late Matches

The ATP and WTA have announced new rules to address concerns about late-night matches and inconsistent tennis balls used at tournaments.


New Rules to Reduce Late-Night Matches

The WTA and ATP have responded to player concerns by implementing new rules to reduce the number of late-night matches at tour events. The organizations stated that matches finishing after midnight have increased in recent years, negatively impacting players and fans. Starting in January, the changes include limiting the number of matches per court to five, not allowing matches to begin after 11 p.m. without supervisor approval, moving matches to an alternate court that has not started before 10:30 p.m., and setting a recommended 6:30 p.m. start time for night sessions. These rules will be evaluated at the end of the season as a trial basis.

In response to players' complaints about inconsistent tennis balls used at tournaments, the WTA and ATP also announced a strategic review. Currently, individual tournaments can choose the ball they use, resulting in a variety of brands and types of balls being used. The goal of the review is to establish a more consistent and centralized approach to ensure greater ball consistency within tournament swings for players. A timeline for the review was not provided.

Player Concerns Drive Rule Changes

Several players, including Taylor Fritz, Daniil Medvedev, Marketa Vondrousova, and Stan Wawrinka, expressed their concerns about late-night matches and inconsistent tennis balls in 2023. Taylor Fritz mentioned on social media that he had been dealing with wrist issues due to ball changes during the US Open series. The ATP and WTA expressed their commitment to addressing these concerns and improving player health and fan experience.

ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi stated, "Match scheduling and tennis balls are both priority topics on our agenda, together with the WTA. It's imperative that we evolve and adapt to the demands of the modern game, particularly where player health and fan experience are concerned. We're optimistic about the impact we can make on both these fronts, now and in the longer term."

Impact and Future Plans

The new rules and strategic review are expected to have a positive impact on the scheduling of matches and the consistency of tennis balls used at tournaments. By reducing late-night matches, players and fans will have a better experience, and players will also benefit from a more consistent approach to tennis balls. The ATP and WTA will evaluate the effectiveness of these changes at the end of the season and consider further improvements for the future.

The tennis community is hopeful that these initiatives will lead to a more streamlined and standardized approach to match scheduling and equipment use, ultimately enhancing the overall quality of the sport for both players and fans.