Roger Federer says Grand Slam seeds reverting back to 16 from 32 would be 'intriguing'

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Roger Federer believes reverting back to 16 seeds at the Grand Slams is “intriguing” while ex-world No. 1 Carlos Moya says it’s “better for the fans”.

The Grand Slam Board announced on Tuesday changes and trials that will be implemented at the majors, one of which includes reducing the number of seeds from 32 to 16 in 2019.

Halving the number of seeds is an attempt to make the early rounds of the Grand Slams more interesting as it will open up the possibility of higher-ranked players facing off early.

There were 16 seeds at Slams until after Wimbledon in 2001, when the US Open, motivated by demands from television networks, asked for 32 in the hope that stars would still be in contention in the closing rounds.

The decision to revert back to 16 seeds was taken during a two-day meeting of the Grand Slam Board in London last week.

Federer told reporters during the ATP Finals that he understands the issue with having 32 seeds and that taking that number down to 16 could have its advantages.

The Swiss 19-time Grand Slam champion competed in nine majors that had 16 seeds before the figure was doubled in 2001.

“I think there is definitely something intriguing about having 16 seeds. I see the problem of the 32 seeds, it makes – I mean the eight seeds get byes usually at the Masters 1000 I believe, so you make it like these stairs, where once you’re in it, you’re kind of safe, and I feel like there’s too many of these stairs, you know, that you have to get to the top, it’s hard to drop out and hard to get into,” explained Federer in London.

“But I think maybe having 16 seeds that might be interesting, because the draw can be more volatile, and better matches the first week because top guys make a habit or, not cruising, but getting through the first week somewhat comfortably for a long period of time now.

“I do believe playing No.17, or 19, or 21 in the world is not something the top guys really want to do but it is what it is.”

The current 32-seed format means that seeded players can only face-off from the third round onwards. Once that is halved in 2019, a world No. 1 could play a world No. 17 in the opening round. Today, this means a Rafael Nadal v John Isner clash could take place in the first round of a major.

Nadal’s coach, Moya, competed in many Slams that had 16-seed draws. The Spanish 1998 French Open champion sees both pros and cons for the board’s decision.

“For the top players, it’s better like it is now (32 seeds), from the other players’ perspective it’s better the other way, and for the crowd and people watching, probably 16 seeds is better. You get to see more interesting matches in the first rounds,” Moya told Sport360.

The Grand Slam Board also agreed to introduce an on-court shot clock – trialed during the US Open qualifying tournament last August – that would enforce a time limit of 25 seconds between points.

The shot clock proved a big hit with the players during the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan earlier this month.

Other decisions taken during the board meeting include a strict enforcement of the pre-match warm-up timing, as well as a new rule regarding first-round withdrawals at the majors.

A player who withdraws before main draw action starts will receive 50 per cent of first-round prize money in order to discourage competitors from starting their opening rounds while knowingly injured then retiring halfway through. The other half of the prize money would go to the replacement lucky loser.

This year’s Wimbledon witnessed seven first-round retirements in the men’s singles main draw which sparked controversy surrounding players who started matches knowing they were not fit enough to compete, only to collect thousands of pounds in prize money.

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Novak Djokovic to face either Dominic Thiem or Milos Raonic on injury return at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship

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Back to the capital: Novak Djokovic.

Novak Djokovic will make his long-awaited return to tennis on December 29 with either Dominic Thiem or Milos Raonic set to welcome him back at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC).

The 10th edition of the capital showpiece takes place from December 28-30 and the tournament will host the comebacks of both Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka from their lengthy injury lay-offs.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion ended his 2017 season after retiring during his Wimbledon quarter-final against Tomas Berdych and has since been out of action with an elbow injury.

Djokovic was handed a first-round bye when the draw was officially announced on Tuesday and in the other half of the draw, Rafael Nadal was also given a bye.

The world No1 will take on the winner of Pablo Carreno Busta and Wawrinka – setting up the tantalising prospect of a MWTC final clash between Nadal and Djokovic.

The two first-round ties will be played on December 28 with the semi-finals the following day before culminating in the December 30 final.

Tickets for the landmark 10th edition of the MWTC are on sale at www.ticketmaster.ae and all Virgin Megastores across the UAE. For more information, visit: www.mubadalawtc.com.

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Novotna's tears and triumph forever among Wimbledon's enduring images

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Jana Novotna‘s story of Wimbledon redemption is among the most heartwarming tales in sport.

If you thought Andy Murray wrote the script for coming back from tears to win a grand slam title, Novotna actually did it almost 20 years previously.

Indeed, the Czech, who lost her battle with cancer aged 49 on Sunday, looked destined to be remembered only for her breakdown on Centre Court.

Born in Brno, in what was then Czechoslovakia, Novotna was encouraged to start playing the game aged eight by her engineer father and schoolteacher mother after initially taking a liking to gymnastics.

Inspired by her countrywoman Martina Navratilova, she turned professional aged 19 in 1987 and, having enjoyed early success in doubles, began to make her mark in the singles in the 1990s and was a regular winner on tour.

She had runs to the French Open semi-final and the Australian Open final, but it was at Wimbledon in 1993 where she became a household name.

In one of the most enduring images in the long history of the All England Lawn and Tennis Club, a distraught Novotna was famously consoled by the Duchess of Kent after her final loss to Steffi Graf.

Novotna had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory having led 4-1 in the final set.

She was in floods of tears as she received her runners-up prize and in a moment of unusual emotion, the Duchess embraced the Czech, telling her: “I know you will win it one day, don’t worry.”

In tears: Jana Novotna is consoled by the Duchess of Kent

In tears: Jana Novotna is consoled by the Duchess of Kent

Graf was celebrating her fifth title at SW19, but it was her opponent who won the affection of the tennis world – and the British public – that day.

“For me, it was the best thing that happened to my life,” Novotna told Sport360 in 2015.

“The next day, because of everything that happened during the ceremony and during the match, I opened the newspapers and I was on the front page of every newspaper, I felt like a winner.”

There was more heartache to follow four years later as she again made the showpiece final, only to be beaten by a 16-year-old Martina Hingis.

With the precocious Swiss looking set to take the game by storm and Venus Williams also emerging, Novotna could have been forgiven for thinking it might never happen for her.

But she was known for her fight on court and bounced back 12 months later to finally get her hands on the Venus Rosewater Dish and prove the Duchess right in one of the most popular wins in Wimbledon’s history.

Aged 29, she avenged her defeat to Hingis in the semi-finals and beat Nathalie Tauziat in straight sets in the final, 6-4, 7-6.

It was her crowning moment in the game and the second to last of the 24 singles titles she won, though aside from her ups and downs at Wimbledon she enjoyed prolific success in the doubles.

She won 16 grand slam doubles titles – 12 in the women’s and four in the mixed.

She retired from the circuit in 1999 just over 12 months after her SW19 success and is remembered as a fine exponent of the serve and volley, with a fierce competitive streak.

Off the court, Novotna was thought of as kind and quiet. Her sense of humour and love for the game came across in abundance during her stint as a BBC commentator in the early 2000s.

She later moved into coaching, working with 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli and Czech Barbora Krejcikova in 2015.

She needed those battling qualities she had displayed on court more than ever to fight cancer, a disease few knew she was fighting due to her quiet, private nature.

But that was one hurdle she could not overcome and surrounded by her family in the Czech Republic she died peacefully on Sunday night, 11 months short of her 50th birthday.

Novotna may well be remembered for her Wimbledon tears, but it is the tennis world that is now shedding them.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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