Washington - Serve and warm-up clocks making their ATP and
WTA main draw debuts on Monday will be a positive for players, even
routine-filled server Rafael Nadal, predicted the ATP Tour's officiating head.
"There may be some bumps along the way but I think in
the long run it's going to be a positive for everybody," ATP executive
rules and competition vice president Gayle Bradshaw said on Monday.
"I'm optimistic this is really going to be a big plus.
I think there's some anxiety because it's new, but once they get out and try it
they will be fine with it."
The US Open tested the clocks in 2017 qualifying and
announced plans to use them in main draw matches when this year's Grand Slam
event begins August 27 on the New York hard-courts.
The ATP, WTA and US Tennis Association agreed on a protocol
that would allow the clocks to be used in pre-US Open events so players could
better adjust to the change.
"For myself, it's not going to be easy," said
Japan's 20th-ranked Kei Nishikori, the 2014 US Open runner-up.
"I'm not going to have time to think much about where
to put my serve between the points and with the heat it's going to be a little
bit tougher I think.
"There are many different players. Some like to play
quick. Some guys like to take a lot of time between points. It might be good
for fans if they want to see more points and quicker points. I don't know if
it's good for players."
Bradshaw says players such as Nadal, who makes several
adjustments before serving, or Novak Djokovic, who likes lots of ball bouncing,
"Both those guys, when they see the time, will
adapt," he said. "Rafa, I think it's going to be a benefit, wearing
down other guys after chasing down his balls."
Players and fans both called for faster pace of play, said
Bradshaw, who noted ATP directors will meet in New York to consider using the
clocks tour-wide next year.
Clocks won't be in place in 2018 ATP Tour events after the
US Open except the Next Gen event in Milan where they were tested last year.
A warm-up clock will hasten the pre-match process, allowing
players five minutes for hitting and another minute to prepare before the
"They don't have to get the ball in play. They just
have to be ready to play," Bradshaw said.
The serve clock will allow 25 seconds for players to begin
the service motion, the umpire starting the clock after announcing the score
with receivers responsible for playing at the server's place.
"We're going to start the clocks when he starts his
motion, not when he's bouncing the ball," Bradshaw said.
Umpires can pause or reset the clock to allow for an
interruption and time is allowed for exchanging balls after games.
"We built a protocol that has common sense built into
it," Bradshaw said. "The things where they should pause should be
obvious to everyone.
"If you have a great point, people go crazy, they'll
wait until applause dies down. When players hear the score, they know the clock
After a warning, servers will lose a serve and receivers
will lose a point for clock violations.
"To me, this is a success if there are no time
violations," Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw said players liked removing time violation
discretion from the umpire and putting a clock on display for all to see.
"Umpires will be expected to give a time violation if
it goes to zero if they haven't started their motion," Bradshaw said.
"A lot of times it has been common sense to do that. A
lot of times it has not. It's the inconsistency that frustrates the
And he said "it makes it easier" for
umpires," adding, "They don't want to be so disrupted that they don't
officiate the match."
Don't expect a desperate time-expiring 'toss and no swing'
trick to pay off.
"If the guy runs up and throws it up trying to beat the
clock, that's not going to work," Bradshaw said.