ATP is testing a new rule with the serve clock at Halle and Queens

The new rule is intended to speed up the tennis match, but will it do more harm than good?

The ATP is testing a new rule at this week's Halle Open and Queen's Club Championships. The rule pertains to the 25-second serve clock.

In a normal situation, the chair umpire resets the serve clock when he or she updates the score. However, in Halle and Queens, the 25-second serve clock resets immediately after the point ends.

Players have adjusted to the service clock introduced in 2018, but they are aware that they have a little more than 25 seconds between points to collect their breath, use their towels, and strategize for the next point.

Pros and cons of the new rule for starting the service clock

As with any rule, there are pros and cons associated with it. The benefit of resetting the service clock immediately after the previous point is that the match continues to flow. There will be little dead time between points for spectators.

The drawback is that players do not have those few extra seconds while the chair umpire updates his scoreline to catch their breath particularly if a long rally occurred on the previous point. Some players play matches at a faster speed so it will not affect them. A player like Rafael Nadal who is very deliberate and slow with his mannerisms between serves could feel the time crunch.

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It is not clear what the long-term plan is. As it is just being tested at two grasscourt tournaments, there would have to be additional consideration before a universal implementation on all surfaces. Hardcourt surfaces which tend to play faster could be where players are most impacted by it.

Tennis players have to deal with many changes on a weekly basis, new balls, surface, and now interim rules. They should be commended for their athleticism and ability to adapt to changes on the fly.

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