Tennis

Grand Slams to have shot-clocks, fewer seeds

Tennis chiefs have agreed to introduce shot-clocks and reduce the number of seeds in the four Grand Slam tournaments from 32 to 16, as part of a raft of rule changes aimed at widening the sport's appeal.

From 2019, Wimbledon and the Australian, French and US Opens will have only 16 seeded players in the men's and women's draws.

The Grand Slam Board, responsible for the rules at the four Majors, confirmed the changes on Tuesday.

Halving the number of seeds is an attempt to make the early rounds of the Majors more interesting as it will increase the possibility of higher-ranked players facing off before the last 16.

There were 16 seeds at Grand Slams until after Wimbledon in 2001, when the US Open, motivated by demands from television networks, asked for 32 in the hope that stars would still be in contention in the closing rounds.

Players will also have an additional five seconds between points at next year's Australian Open, but time-wasters will have nowhere to hide, thanks to the introduction of shot-clocks.

The Grand Slam Board confirmed that the Australian Open's request to raise the time from 20 to 25 seconds and strictly enforce it with an electronic shot-clock had been accepted.

The three other Slams will also allow 25 seconds, bringing them in line with regular Tour events, but are not currently scheduled to have shot-clocks.

The length of time between points has been a cause of consternation and, while increasing the period allowed appears counterintuitive, shot-clocks will take the decision over whether to penalise a slow player out of the umpire's hands.

Currently, it is down to the discretion of the official, but the inconsistency in enforcing it has caused problems.

The 25-second shot-clock was trialled at the US Open qualifying event this year and also at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan this month. - WIRE SERVICES

Tennis