The WTA and ATP have collaborated on new scheduling rules to reduce the number of late-match finishes on the tours. A strategic review on tennis balls is also underway, with the aim of increasing quality and consistency of balls during tournament swings from 2025 onward. The initiatives are a direct result of player input and aim to boost the tournament experience for both players and fans.

Match scheduling

The number of late-match finishes (defined as matches finishing after midnight) has risen considerably in recent years, negatively impacting players and fans. This is tied to an increase in average match length on tour.

New rules related to match scheduling will be implemented at WTA and ATP events and will be in effect from January 2024 as follows:

  • No more than five matches per day per court (with an 11 a.m. start), with three matches during the day session and two matches during the evening session.
  • No matches to go on court after 11 p.m., unless approved by the WTA/ATP supervisor in consultation with WTA/ATP management.
  • Matches not on court by 10:30 p.m. to be moved to an alternative court -- by no later than 11 p.m.
  • Night sessions to begin no later than 7:30 p.m., with a recommendation for 6:30 p.m.

In exceptional circumstances, a tournament may request waivers based on local cultural traditions, weather conditions or other extenuating situations, to be considered by WTA/ATP.

The new scheduling rules are being implemented as part of a one-year trial in 2024, with further review to follow.

Tennis balls

A strategic review of tennis balls used on the tours is underway. Historically, each individual tournament has had the ability to determine its own ball supplier or sponsor, leading to potential inconsistencies of balls used week-on-week.

The intention is to now move toward a more consistent and centralized approach by WTA and ATP. The goal is to deliver greater ball consistency within tournament swings for players and tighter certification and specification requirements for an enhanced end product, while not adversely affecting revenue streams for tournaments.

Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO, said: “We feel it is important that these initiatives are fully aligned between the two tours and will allow for athletes to perform at their highest levels, providing for an improved athlete and fan experience. The athlete’s direct feedback in cooperation with our event members has been terrific in allowing us to continue modernizing our sport.”

Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman, said: “Match scheduling and tennis balls are both priority topics on our agenda, together with the WTA. It’s imperative that we evolve and adapt to the demands of the modern game, particularly where player health and fan experience are concerned. We’re optimistic about the impact we can make on both these fronts, now and in the longer term.”