Changes announced for Grand Slams, including 16 seeds starting in 2019

The Grand Slam Board recently completed two days of meetings in London, which took place during the Nitto ATP Finals. Some new rules were established for Grand Slams and they were announced on Tuesday, including a move back to only 16 seeds beginning in 2019.

Among the other rules

– Starting in 2018, 25 seconds between points will be strictly enforced with a “serve/shot clock.”

– Starting in 2018, timing of the pre-match warmup will be strictly enforced. Players must be ready for the pre-match meeting at the net no more than one minute after walking on the court. That will be followed by a five-minute warmup and then one more minute in between the warmup and the beginning of play. Violation of this timing may subject a player to a fine up to $20,000.

– Starting in 2018, any singles player with direct entry into the main draw 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 first-round prize money. The replacement lucky loser will receive the remaining 50 percent plus any additional prize money earned thereafter.

– Starting in 2018, any player who competes in the first round of the main draw in singles and retires or performs below professional standards may now be subject to a fine up to the value of first round prize money.

– Starting in 2019, Grand Slams will revert to 16 seeds. In 2018, 32 seeds will remain.

44 Comments on Changes announced for Grand Slams, including 16 seeds starting in 2019

  1. All of these changes are good. Tennis needs to keep up with the times; long televised warm-ups and dead time between points kill fan interest. Key to the clock’s success is consistency in application and penalty, though if they call it what Ricky calls it above, things could get rather interesting.

    16 seeds is enough. Tennis is top-heavy enough as it is, and the top players don’t need the additional protection of avoiding players #17-32 for one extra round.

    • The #17-32 players need the protection more than the top players. We’ll see.

      I think I’ll like the shot clock. And it’s about time the ITF abandoned the unrealistic 20 second serve “rule” that no one enforced anyway.

      • Yeah, it’s true that it’s the no.17 to 32 players who are given the protection all along. The top guys don’t need the protection.

        If the no.17 to 32 guys are with bad luck, they may meet the top sixteen seeds in R1; I’m not sure that’s good for tennis. I mean do we want their rankings to fall so that others ranked lower than them can go up, when the others are lucky enough not to meet the top sixteen seeds in R1, or even R2?

  2. Shot clock at 25 seconds makes sense, but don’t be surprised if it goes down over time as players adjust. There was resistance to an NCAA basketball shot clock back in the 80s, even at 45 seconds (I believe). It went down to 35 seconds ten years later and is now down to 30 seconds (NBA is 24).

    A clock could well make tennis more exciting, as has certainly happened in basketball. One likely outcome is that players go for winners early in the point, since playing long grinding points comes at an additional fitness cost.

    • Going for winners prematurely leads to more unforced errors and shittier tennis.

      Players should go for winners for reasons other than desperation, lack of alternatives and exhaustion.


      • Got to agree with Hawkeye here. One should go for winners when it’s the right time to do so and not being rushed to do so,

        • Wait, I’m confused. The length of the actual point will not have a limit, right? This is the time between points, no?

          • Yes, no? But if players have less recovery time between points they may have to shorten points by going for winners sooner. This has been the main argument for not having a shot clock and leaving the umpire discretion over how/when to enforce the time between points. But umpires “discrete” differently. I think the main advantage of the shot clock is letting the server see when he must serve instead of depending on his built-in time sense.

        • Exactly Lucky.

          That’s why today lower ranked players just go for broke and go for low-margin points with nothing to lose because it’s their only option.

          Federer admits to doing this vs Rafa on clay as it’s his only option on that surface against him.

      • Not necessarily. Another option is that neither player tries for a winner at all, and we have long boring points of one minute or more, each player simply hitting the ball back to each other (which professional players are perfectly capable of).

        I don’t think 25 seconds between points is at all unreasonable. As I said, I won’t be surprised to see it go down to 20 or even lower eventually. The players will adjust, and the viewing experience will (probably) improve.

        • Joe, you’re talking about extremes. I mean look at the stats for the matches, how many short points vs how many long points? The players always play more shorter points, ie 9 shots. In fact they play mostly 9 shots rallies.

          BO3 matches usually end within 1-1 1/2 hrs, unless they go the distance, but that’s not because players prolong the matches with longer points, more like they’re fighting to overcome one another when both are playing at about the same level.

          BO5 usually end in 2 to 2 plus hours in straight sets or four sets, only the five set matches tend to go over 3 hours or more. I really don’t see players purposely playing longer points in BO5 when they know they may have to play five setters.

        • Well, the point was that there are already built-in time constraints. Obviously, players don’t play points that last one minute because no one wants to.

          The question is whether 25 seconds between points is unreasonable. I haven’t seen a single argument on this forum that it is. No one knows that a clock will produce more errors or shittier tennis; or that it will produce more winners and exciting tennis. We just have to see.

          • Joe, if you’ve watched the Nextgen Finals, you’ll notice that players have no problems with the 25 Sec shot clock rule. Imo, it’s because the umpire controls the shot clock, as to when it starts. The umpire will start the clock after he calls the score, and after a long exciting point when the spectators were still noisy, the umpire could wait for a while before calling the score and then starts the clock. I hardly saw anyone went over the time limit during the nextgen finals. Some went very close to 25 secs but not over.

            The timing on the shot clock – it flashes in yellow as the time remaining reduces but it becomes red once it is only five secs or less remaining.

            They have not tried it on clay when points are longer, so I don’t know can players keep within the 25 secs as the match goes on, esp in BO5 and match goes the distance.

  3. The next gen finals showed there was room for change in the rules. Id like to see a limit on the number of deuces and advantage points. And second serves.

  4. The umpire controls the shot clock so it’ll be fine that he starts the clock only after calling the score ( like it’s done at the next gen Finals). The umpire will wait for crowd noises to die down, esp after a long exciting point, calls the score before starting the clock again, so players can still take a breather before the next point.

    The shot clock works perfectly fine during the next gen final so I think it’ll be fine at the slams.

  5. Not liking the 17-32. The top guys could get some god awful draws, ruining it for ticket owners later in the week who might not be able to see a matchup between Fed and Nadal because one of them drew a Kyrgios kind of unseeded player first round or something.

  6. 25 seconds is too much, it should be 5 seconds when others are serving but 1 minute or 2 when THE best player is serving lol😁😋😂🤣😊😁!

    25 seconds, i don’t have a problem with player’s who want to take their time when serving as long as they don’t abuse it and most, if not all don’t.

    Since this is new 30 seconds would have been better or let they boy’s be boys( that includes my sweet ladies too).

    We were spoilt by lots of good and exciting tournaments, incredible matches, amazing shots etc.
    Some of you cried and your hearts were broken repeatedly seeing your favourite player beaten like a baby, but don’t worry there is always next year, everything will be fine.

    Some made some good money, some didn’t, some of us appreciated and enjoyed each tournament, some didn’t, broken hearts, cheerful hearts, five in a roll, zero in a roll 😂😂😂 OK I am joking.

    For real, no matter how you feel, no matter where you are, I wish u the very best and I hope your dreams come true.

    Xoxo to my ladies.
    👊 to my guy’s.

  7. I don’t get what happens if a player makes a clock violation. Does he lose the point, get fined, get a warning..?
    I’d assume he would lose the point, right?

  8. I actually like the Hawkeye calling the lines and so doing away with line judges, as there’s no need for challenging of line calls. The line judges may call wrongly and then correct their own calls and it may be unfair to the players at times. With Hawkeye there’s no such issue. It also saves times as there’s no waiting for challenges results, no arguments, no replaying of points.

  9. “Clarify” = Backtrack

    Tennis chiefs have moved to clarify their position with regard to the introduction of a 25-second shot clock at next year’s grand slam tournaments.

    The sport’s Grand Slam Tennis board issued an earlier statement which implied the controversial rule would be applied for the main draw of the Australian Open in January.

    But the organisation now says it will remain in the qualifying stages only for the time being – just as it was trialled in US Open qualifying in September.

  10. In the first comment on that article there’s an interesting point about the effect of modern string technology on the shot clock issue. Longer matches in tennis is often chalked up to the slowing down of the courts over the last 15-20 years, but modern strings may be an even more important factor in making long points possible.

    As the commentator suggests, it’s probably too late to go back now.

  11. I remember when Rafa and Djoko just started out in the main tour, they were way more offensive than they’re now. I guess they were affected by the slowing of the courts and whatever string technology, and adapt their games to suit the surfaces.

    I do believe if Rafa continued with the style he played back in 2004 or earlier, and Djoko continued with his paint the line tennis, they would excel on the quicker courts even if the courts weren’t being slowed down.

    I also remember when Murray was young, as an 18 or 19 year old, he was playing with lots of tricks in his bag esp when on grass; he already had some deft touches back then. It’s a pity that he’s now more a baseline player rather than moving to the net more often.

    Anyway, all three of them are playing more an all court game, reverting back to more offensive games, probably they’re getting older and thus want to shorten points and shorten the matches played. Murray is the most defensive of the three, but he too wasn’t all defensive esp when playing on grass.

Comments are closed.

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