Grand Slams to fine tennis players for slow pre-match preparations


Players will face a fine of up to $20,000 if they are not ready to play seven minutes after they walk on court at next year’s Grand Slams, a meeting of the four majors has decided.

The gathering in London announced that the timing of the pre-match preparations would be “strictly enforced”, tightening up the regulations to improve the experience for both fans and broadcasters.

The Grand Slam Board also said in a statement Tuesday that it intends to change the rules on seedings from 2019, cutting the number at the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open in half to 16.

This would reduce the protection afforded to the top players in a system of 32 seeds and should make tournaments more exciting from the first round.

Roger Federer said recently in London he thought this would be an “interesting” alteration and make things more competitive, but the board has allowed a year before implementation with a view to gauging reaction from those involved in the game.

Wimbledon saw off the suggestion of introducing in-match coaching that was on the agenda, while a rule change on first-round withdrawals was confirmed.

Any singles player who is unfit to play and withdraws on-site after noon on the Thursday before a slam starts will now only receive 50 percent of the prize money, with the rest going to the lucky loser replacement.

The rules will also allow for a fine of up to the equivalent of the first-round prize money for any player who retires at that stage or “performs below professional standards”.

The introduction of a shot clock for the majors also moved a step closer at the board meeting during the ATP Finals, with the Australian Open being granted permission to use it to enforce a 25-second time limit on serves as a trial outside the main draw next year.

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