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Are ‘fluffier’ tennis balls inflicting longer matches on the Australian Open?


MELBOURNE, Australia — What’s in a ball? Well, rather a lot, particularly should you’re Rafael Nadal on the Australian Open.

The 2022 champion and different prime gamers are claiming this yr’s balls are vastly totally different to these which graced the courts final yr.

Nadal’s principal criticism is that the balls do not spin as a lot as he is used to — dangerous information for somebody whose topspin is the envy of the Tour.

And he is not the one prime participant who thinks the Dunlop balls have modified.

Novak Djokovic, following his opening spherical win over Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena, backed up Nadal’s claims.

“I mean, [the balls are] different from last year,” Djokovic informed the media. “The longer you play, the more rallies you play, the fluffier or the bigger the ball becomes, and it’s slower.”

On Saturday, earlier than the match started, Nadal complained about how the balls are usually not taking over the Spaniard’s trademark degree of spin. At the United Cup in Sydney earlier than the Australian Open started, Nadal struggled, dropping each matches he performed to Australia’s Alex De Minaur and Brit Cameron Norrie.

“They say [the balls are] the same, but the ball is worse quality, without a doubt,” Nadal stated on the time.

“I think it’s a ball that don’t get the same spin as usual. After a couple of hits, the ball lose the pressure. It’s more difficult to hit with the right spin. But I think it’s easier to play when you play flatter on the shots.

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“But I have to stay with it. I feel I practiced sufficient with the ball to be prepared for it.”

Djokovic suspects that the fluffier, slower balls are leading to longer rallies..

“I noticed that [Alexei] Popyrin is taking part in now over 4 hours. [Casper] Ruud performed over three-and-a-half hours. I feel we’re going to see extra of these longer period of matches this yr than we’ve got possibly final yr,” Djokovic said.

“One of the most important causes will in all probability be the ball … I do not assume the pace of the floor has modified a lot. The outdoors courts are fairly fast. The stadium courts are a bit slower. But the ball is slower. So that impacts the play.”

Nadal’s first-round opponent Jack Draper also agreed: “[The balls] appear to kind of begin off, after they’re new, flying so much. Then hastily they get fairly fluffy. A few them went very tender in a short time. [I] gave them to the ref.”

On Tuesday, Andy Murray and Matteo Berrettini played a four hour and 49 minute match — the third longest match of Murray’s career. On Monday, 2022 Australian Open runner up Danielle Collins played the longest match of her career, spending three hours and three minutes on court against Anna Kalinskaya.

On Wednesday, Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime approached the chair umpire mid-match to criticize the performance of the Dunlops.

“I do not wish to complain about it however the balls are usually not bouncing. It’s loopy. I imply, we’re hitting regular however I dunno. I do know [the chair umpire] cannot do something, however I dunno if it is the batch of cans. I’ve by no means seen it.”

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Overall, via Wednesday morning, 9 males’s matches out of the 55 performed ticked past 4 hours.


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