“Dead” balls and a slow-motion Open | Sports

Rafael Nadal spoke first, asked about the matter at the gates of the tournament. “No, in the speed of the tracks there is not a big difference. But on the ball, yes. They say it’s the same [que el año pasado], but it is of worse quality, without a doubt. We have what we have and we have to play with it, but they don’t have the same effect as usual; after a couple of rallies they lose pressure and it is more difficult to give the correct spin, it favors when you hit it flat. But I have to live with it and I think I’ve practiced enough to be ready”, said the man from Manacor, who, when asked about the issue two days later, indicated: “No, I’m not frustrated. I’m not going to talk about this again because I’m here to play tennis. I responded because they asked me, not because I wanted to create any story.”

Nadal did not want any confusion, but what the Mallorcan advanced in front of the microphone was immediately perceptible from the stands. Since the first pitch of the tournament, the exchanges have been transmitting a sensation of excessive pastiness -within the context of the hard court- and the image of one of the players withdrawing a ball because it has lost too much air or directly is repeated with unusual frequency. has been punctured

“I don’t usually complain about this and I know that now nothing can be done. But these balls just don’t bounce. It’s crazy! We hit him as usual, but I don’t know what happens. They are terrible!”, Felix Auger-Aliassime protested to the referee during a match, the Canadian resigned because his topspin shots did not have the desired effect nor did he manage to overwhelm his rival, despite the fact that his is one of the most powerful arms on the circuit and one of the ones that registers the most winning shots. “They become fluffy very quickly, at 3-2 they were almost dead,” added the Danish Holger Rune, in an opinion shared by a large number of players. For example, by Pablo Carreño.

“There is a lot of difference between the first two or three games and the following ones. It wears out very quickly, and when it wears out it gets very heavy. You have to hit it very hard to throw it out; those who hit it very hard pull hard and it doesn’t escape because it’s very heavy, and those of us who don’t have that strength to hit it like this have a little more trouble. But hey, it is what it is, we can not do anything. It costs a lot to move it and in my case [lesionado del brazo desde noviembre] It hasn’t helped me”, says the Asturian.

Djokovic signs a ball for a fan.
Djokovic signs a ball for a fan.MANAN VATSYAYANA (AFP)

Immediately, the game revealed that this Australian Open was going to be of another cut. Traditional territory of vertigo, because in addition to being played on asphalt, the sun hits hard and that further enlivens the bounce and the ball’s exit, the great Australian spends this edition one gear less. The slowdown generates longer exchanges, with the consequent benefit when it comes to witnessing more attractive points and enhancing the spectacle, but in some cases, when there is no definitive intention, the rally becomes so thick that neither one nor the other player achieves the hit Grace to close it. The possibility of signing a winner (winning shot) has been reduced considerably and at times, the debate gets endlessly tangled.

It happened in the second round duel between the Russian Karen Khachanov and the Australian Jason Kubler, give and take: 70 rackets until the ball (completely fuzzed) touched the tape and rewarded the second.

Novak Djokovic already warned him, with a good nose: “I think that this year we are going to see longer matches than the previous one.” The Serbian, quoted this Monday (9.00, Eurosport) with the local Alex de Miñaur, reasoned. “And the main reason will be the ball, because I don’t think the speed of the courts has changed much; the outer ones are faster and the big ones a little less, but the ball [marca Dunlop] it is slower and that affects the game”, the Belgrade player expanded a few days ago, to which the course of events and the numerical data prove him right.

Seven more games to five sets

This tournament has provided 27 matches to five sets in the men’s draw, compared to 20 last year, while in the women’s the dynamics (32-32) are maintained. Regarding the duration, this year 14 games over four hours have been settled among men, five more than in 2022 (9), while the girls trace the record with 28 games over two hours in both years.

“There was almost no pressure on the ball, it was deflated; that’s what she was complaining about. It is very difficult to get winners. I think there was a 70 punch exchange [el del Khachanov-Kubler] and there are many of 35 or 40, and that is not normal”, the Scotsman Andy Murray abounded.

Detail of the Dunlop balls from the Australian Open.
Detail of the Dunlop balls from the Australian Open.PAUL CROCK (AFP)

Since the Dunlop ball began to spin on the 16th, criticism has been spreading and tournament director Craig Tiley came out referring to the weather conditions; specifically, humidity. “We will take into account the comments of the players and we will inform them about it, but I leave that to the technicians,” said the leader, while some very specific voice like Roberto Bautista endorses the organization’s choice. “I like Dunlops. Each one has his game and some circumstances are going well for him; Give me Nadal’s game at Roland Garros… You have to try to adapt wherever you go”.

This Sunday, the day number one said goodbye, Iga Swiatek (double 6-4 for Rybakina), as well as Coco Gauff, another of the favorites (7-5 ​​and 6-4 against Ostapenko), the last match of the The day between Victoria Azarenka and Lin Zhu lasted until 2:40 a.m. – with an average of 5.5 minutes per game – and the fans who were still holding out in the stands at Melbourne Park left the complex after 2:18 in the morning. This is how this Australian Open goes. Slow of balls where they exist.

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