Tennis players are fed up with the constant balls changing: "It hurts us"

The situation became paradoxical between Indian Wells and Miami, with the two tournaments each choosing a different brand of balls

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Tennis players are fed up with the constant balls changing: "It hurts us"
© Adam Hagy / Stringer Getty Images Sport

The constant change of ball brands from one tournament to another is confusing tennis players on the WTA and ATP Tour, who constantly find themselves having to deal with situations that put them at risk of injuries and physical problems.

Following what is happening in the Sunshine Double, between Indian Wells and Miami, the athletes have once again expressed disappointment with the situation, considering that no action was taken during the break between one year and the next.

For example, the Californian tournament has Penn as its ball brand while the Florida event chose Dunlop: this difference naturally did not please the tennis players.

On the topic, Taylor Fritz spoke to the media at a press conference, underlining: "It can influence us more than the change of court. It is impossible to compare one tournament with another, because if the balls are different it cannot be compared."

The British star Emma Raducanu also talked about the change of balls between one tournament and another. "It hurts us a lot to have to change balls every week, especially in my case after having undergone a major operation," she revealed.

The US Jessica Pegula added: "The conditions are like night and day, you hit a completely different ball and you have to change the tension. It's not ideal. If we could at least have the same brand of balls every week, we could at least control that variable. There are already other ones that change. When you constantly change this one, it becomes really difficult."

The issue, which has already emerged significantly during the season, does not allow players to adapt to a specific variety of balls, as the characteristics change practically with each event, thus increasing the risk of injury in the shoulder, arm or wrist area. 

Tennis balls issue
Tennis balls issue© Will Russell / Stringer Getty Images Sport
 

Controversy at Indian Wells and already at the beginning of the season at the PTPA he had expressed his point of view

Already a few weeks ago at the BNP Paribas Open many tennis players had complained about having to play with what they described as the worst balls in the world.

Many have complained about the poor quality of the balls. Stan Wawrinka, for example, had made his voice heard on the issue, followed by other colleagues.
Andy Roddick also expressed himself through X.

The American legend posted an image of one of the balls used by tennis players at Indian Wells, evidently worn, accompanying it with a controversial message.

“I got two messages from two of the best coaches in the world in the last hour saying how bad the balls are at Indian Wells Apparently this happened after a few minutes of warming up. How is it possible that this problem has not been resolved over time?" wrote the former number one in the ATP rankings.

As mentioned, the constant change of balls from one tournament to another created considerable controversy among tennis players last season. For 2024 the PTPA, the players' association promoted by Novak Djokovic, has put the topic among the main points to be discussed and resolved.

The group, which has received protests from athletes such as Wawrinka and Stefanos Tsitsipas, has indicated the possible path that will ultimately be taken by the ATP. At the Finals in Turin there would have been a quick confrontation between Nole and president Andrea Gaudenzi.

PTPA CEO Ahmad Nassar talked in an interview with Express UK to explain what the ATP's next moves could be.

“There will be some board meetings soon where different options will be discussed. Some balls are heavy, some are light. This destroys your shoulder and elbows. It's something that, if you organize a series of tournaments fragmented, you never give importance.

We did some research and it turns out that a high percentage of tennis balls around the world are produced in similar facilities and at the end of the process a logo is put on them.

This means they can continue to sell their sponsorship but we can at least have the same specifications on the playing surface. This would lead to respecting the different brands, so as not to have a negative impact on sponsorship issues in tournaments,” he analyzed.

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