Tennis

Grand Slams to revert to 16 seeds as Australian Open 2018 introduces shot clock

Grand Slams to revert to 16 seeds as Australian Open 2018 introduces shot clock
The 2018 Australian Open will enforce a shot clock (Picture: Getty)

Grand Slam tournaments will revert to 16 seeds rather than the 32 currently used as part of a new set of rules to be enforced over the next year or so.

From 2019, the number of seeds will change at every major, although there are a host of changes that will be implemented in the mean time.

A 25-second shot clock, as trialled at the 2017 US Open qualifying and the Next Gen Finals in Milan, will be on display at the Australian Open in January, while the timing of the pre-match warm-up will now be strictly enforced.

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The Grand Slam Board has also moved to stop issues with players withdrawing from or purposefully lacking effort in first-round matches and still getting their full prize money.

Any player who withdraws shortly before the start of the main draw will keep 50% of their prize money, with the replacement Lucky Loser receiving the other 50% and any prize money won thereafter.

Full Grand Slam Board statement

The Grand Slam Board (GSB) completed two days of meetings in London on November 15-16. A significant portion of the GSB Agenda concerned possible Grand Slam Rule amendments and trials in 2018:

    • It was unanimously agreed to support 2018 Australian Open’s application to the ITF for a waiver of the 20 seconds between points required by the Rules of Tennis, in order to allow for enforcement of a strict 25 seconds utilising a ‘serve/shot clock’ system in line with that trialled at the 2017 US Open.
    • The timing of the pre-match warm-up will be strictly enforced (1 minute after walk-on to be ready for the pre-match meeting, followed by the 5 minute warm-up, then 1 minute to be ready to start the match). Violation of this timing may subject a player to a fine up to $20,000.
    • Any Main Draw singles player 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% of the First Round Prize Money in 2018. The replacement Lucky Loser will receive the remaining 50% plus any additional prize money earned thereafter.
    • Any player who competes in the First Round Main Draw singles and retires or performs below professional standards, may now be subject to a fine up to First Round Prize Money in 2018.
    • The 2018 Grand Slam tournaments will continue with 32 seeds in singles and intend to revert to 16 seeds in 2019.

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