2019 Australian Open: What Will the Serve Clock Bring?

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For the first time, the Australian Open will feature, for all matches, a 25-second serve clock, a digital warning of the time that a player is allowed before they must begin their service action.

The concept of the clock is nothing new, having been trialled at a number of ATP and WTA events before being unveiled to a wider audience at the US Open. However, this is the first time it will be used in Melbourne.

The serve clock, along with the introduction of final set tie-breakers, are part of a wider initiative to speed up the time it takes to complete a tennis match. Tennis officials are aware that matches can just take too long, especially when the needs of a global TV audience are taken into account.

Whilst die-hard tennis fans may love the long gruelling duels on court, the casual TV spectator has neither the time nor inclination to invest three or four hours of their lives watching a single match, especially when competing sports like rugby, hockey, or the ubiquitous football, take much less time.

And, if the viewers are not there, nor will the advertisers and sponsors who pour so much money into tennis, be either.

Whilst the serve clock will be turned off during points it will rarely be idle, starting from the moment that the players arrive on court, counting down the time allowed for settling themselves at the chair, and timing the warm-up. It will also count down the time between games, between sets and changeovers in the tie-break.

In the event that a player fails to begin their service motion before the clock hits zero, then they will receive a warning for their first offence, and, thereafter, lose a first service every time it happens. In the unlikely event that they do not heed the warning and fail to beat the clock on two successive serves, they will lose a point.

Both players and fans may take a little time to get used to the serve clock but, already, it feels like an innovation that is here to stay. Tennis, like all sports has to evolve and adapt itself to the ever-changing demands of spectators.

Andy Dalziel
About Andy Dalziel 647 Articles
Andy is English but a long time resident of Cyprus. When not writing about tennis and other sports, he is also a Chartered Accountant. In his spare moments, he spends more time than is healthy worrying about his beloved Arsenal.

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