AAP Tennis

Towel racks a hot topic for tennis stars

By AAP Newswire

Towels have unexpectedly become a hotly-debated subject in tennis this week.

A number of new initiatives were on trial at the second edition of the Next Gen ATP's Finals, one of which is the towel rack - with players having to fetch their own towels from boxes stationed in the corners of the court.

This is a welcome sight for many who have been made uneasy by the way some tennis stars interact with ball kids when being handed the towel.

Not all the players are in favour of the rack, with tournament winner Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Australian teenager Alex de Minaur in Saturday's final, being a particularly vocal critic.

"One thing that I didn't like that much was the towel thing," the world No. 15 said earlier in the week.

"I was always, you know, had to run for the towel, always had it in my mind when I was playing."

Alexander Zverev wasn't in Milan as he is instead preparing for the ATP Finals in London but he had a dig at Tsitsipas and others who he thinks use the towel too much.

"I heard Tsitsipas say it's the ball boys' job but it's the ball boys' job to give you balls - that's what I see the ball boys as," Zverev said.

"I think you should also prevent players from taking the towel after every single serve and every mishit return, sometimes it does get a little bit ridiculous in my eyes."

The towel rack is just one of the new rules being applied, along with on-court coaching, shorter sets, no-Ad scoring, medical time-out limits, shorter warm-ups and no lets on serve.

For the players, the most popular innovations are the shot clock, and Hawk-Eye making all the line calls.

"Shot clocks for sure are going to soon be on (the tour), I can see that happening very quickly," ATP president Chris Kermode said.

The most drastic change is the shorter set, where the first to four games takes the set, with a tiebreak at 3-3.

But Kermode said that changing the scoring system would need a lot more consideration and analysis.