USOpen balls, difference?

Discussion in 'Pros' Racquets and Gear' started by cluckcluck, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. cluckcluck

    cluckcluck Hall of Fame

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    Watching Roddick's match, he gave the ump a ball and said it was a woman's ball. The chair took it.
    Do the women play with a different tennis ball than the men?
    If so, what is the difference?
     
  2. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    men--hard court heavy duty balls
    women-- hard court regular duty balls
     
  3. rovex

    rovex Legend

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    I wasn't aware myself until this happened, it's supposedly lighter.
     
  4. Calor1

    Calor1 New User

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    Is it only at the US Open that the balls differ? Or is it at the other majors too?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 3, 2012
  5. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    Right, they are not as strong as men. so they need lighter balls. it is meant to prevent injuries. but these lighter balls wear out real fast.
     
  6. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

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    I believe it's at all women's pro tournaments that they use the different balls.
     
  7. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

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    That makes no sense. If women are not as strong as men, then they can't hit the heavier ball as hard either. If they can't hit the ball as hard, the same ball won't have as much momentum when it hits their racquets.

    I think maybe they use the lighter balls to give viewers the illusion that they're hitting the ball as hard as the men.
     
  8. cluckcluck

    cluckcluck Hall of Fame

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    This could actually be a very true statement. Still, the women's groundstrokes still seem slow...even with a lighter tennis ball.
     
  9. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    I think this women's balls would be perfect for clay courts because the felt isn't has heavy so it won't pick up the clay as much.
     
  10. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    On the Wilson site there is only 1 version of the Wilson AO tennis ball (however it is available in either a 3-ball can or a 4-ball can). OTOH, aside from the 3-ball and 4-ball options, there are at least 5 versions of the US Open tennis ball: regular duty, extra duty, high altitude (extra duty), optic yellow grass court (reg duty), and white grasscourt (reg duty).

    Does anyone have evidence that there is more than 1 version of the AO ball? I only see one version currently available for the the Wimbledon ball from the Slazenger site. Not looked at the balls currently used for RG (FO), but I believe that they often use a regular duty ball for many clay tournaments (for both men and women?).

    Head/Penn balls are used for many ATP and WTA tournaments. The ATP often uses the Head ATP or Penn ATP ball (the same ball as the Head ball). The WTA often uses the Regular Duty (red label) version of the Penn Championship ball (and probably the Head Championship ball outside of the US).

    If the regular duty balls are any lighter that the extra duty ball is slight since all pro balls must follow the strict ITF guidelines. All balls, including high-altitude and slow (oversize/Type 3) balls, must fall in a fairly narrow weight range: 1.975-2.095 ounces.

    http://www.itftennis.com/technical/rules/history/index.asp#2006

    With the Penn Championship balls, the red label (regular duty) balls, to me, seems to be a bit softer than the extra duty balls (but I could be wrong about that). This could mean the the rubber is not as stiff and/or the internal pressure is slightly less for the regular duty balls.

    Regular duty balls appear to be very slightly smaller in diameter due to the reduced felt content. Again, the size range is also confined to a fairly narrow range (see link above). The reduced felt probably causes the ball to encounter less air drag and, therefore, will slow down at a slower rate than extra duty ball. IOW, the regular duty is probably a bit faster than extra duty when flying thru the air. Don't know if the speed change due to the bounce is any different due to differences in the felt -- but the bounce speed change could be different if the rubber composition or internal pressure are different.
    .
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012
  11. cluckcluck

    cluckcluck Hall of Fame

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    It's still different, I can't seem to wrap my head around why it's allowed.
     
  12. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Are you talking about the ball differences? Why should it not be allowed? As I indicated, the balls used by the WTA and the ATP must all meet ITF requirements. The ITF specs (see link in my previous post) are fairly narrow in range for the 4 ball types shown. These specs include weight, size, rebound height (percentage), forward deformation, return deformation and ball color. It the balls meet the fairly tight ITF requirements, they are legal.

    I believe that the slight differences between the men's ball and the women's ball is more of an attempt to slow down the men's game rather than artificially boost the women's game. Many of us still recall how boring the men's game was on faster surfaces in the early/mid 90s. Very few rallies -- it was all about a big serve and a big return. The women's game was often considered much more entertaining for part of the 80s and 90s than the no-rally men's game. The larger type 3 ball was introduced as a failed attempt to slow down the prom men's game. With that as a widely unpopular solution, pro balls were made brighter and courts were slowed down.

    Here is a picture that shows the slight difference in size between the extra duty ball (on the left) and the regular duty ball:

    http://i173.photobucket.com/albums/w50/vsbabolat/IMG_0462.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2012
  13. cluckcluck

    cluckcluck Hall of Fame

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    I can't wrap my head around why there are two different balls when the "level playing field" has been a topic since the late 70's. If the WTA wants equality, then truly make it equal, don't be selective.
     
  14. Overheadsmash

    Overheadsmash Semi-Pro

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    At cinci, the men use heavy duty penn ATP and the women use regular duty penn ATP.
     
  15. TennisMaestro

    TennisMaestro Rookie

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    Wonder what they use in mixed dubs?
     
  16. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Excellent feedback from a knowledgeable source. This guy has officiated at numerous professional tennis events, often as a chair umpire.


    Nitpick much? I don't see why you are making such a big fuss about this particular point. I can't see any compelling reason why the ball used should have any bearing on the equity question of prize money. Women are not deriving an unfair benefit over male players by using a different ITF-approved ball.

    Should we also insist that women wear men's shoes, men's clothes and use manly 12+ oz racquets in order to receive equal pay? Are women gaining an unfair advantage with higher iron levels in their diets and higher estrogen levels in their blood stream?

    If you want to make an issue about prize money for events where men play best of 5 while women only play best of 3, then I'm with you on that point. However, denying equity because the WTA uses a slightly different ball is pure folly.
     
  17. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Regular duty felt US Open balls are what most of us at my club use on clay now.
     
  18. NikeWilson

    NikeWilson Semi-Pro

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    Blame Billie Jean King. :D
     
  19. cluckcluck

    cluckcluck Hall of Fame

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    I'm sorry for having an opinion and questions. I'm ashamed that I'm the only person on this public forum that questions professional tennis.
     
  20. Hankenstein

    Hankenstein Professional

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    They use the Regular Duty balls.

    Here in Sweden we only have Extra Duty US Open balls. I tried the Regular Duty ball last week in New York and that regular duty ball is harder and faster then the extra duty ball.
     
  21. Al Czervik

    Al Czervik Professional

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    I don't think this should be turned into an equality thing, but I do find it strange that they are using different balls. Whatever ball is best for that type of court should be used, regardless of differences between men's and women's play. I actually get ticked when a local club uses regular duty on indoor cement (though some people say those are good for indoor play) because the ball really slides low. My understanding was that regular duty should be for natural surfaces.
     
  22. フェデラー

    フェデラー Hall of Fame

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    Well in golf there are men's balls and women's balls. the women's balls are lighter so they can go travel further (women's tees are also closer to the holes than men's tees.)

    People like to say that everything should be even, but at the end of the day, sexual dimorphism still exists. Now of course I don't know the exact differences between the balls, but I guess it must have been dramatic enough for them to change it in the first place. Also a lack of power could be counteracted by looser string tensions and other equipment changes, however considering how finicky pros are, they would never do that.
     
  23. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    I'd be surprised that the reg duty ball would feel harder, but I suppose it is conceivable. It could be that you were playing with the reg duty balls on a colder day -- this affects the internal pressure and the resiliency of the rubber and would make them feel harder. Perhaps it has a very slight effect on the felt as well.

    The Wilson Championship ball feel harder, in general, that the Wilson USO balls. Are you sure that you were not using the cheaper Champ balls?

    The regular duty Penn Champs, to me, feel a bit softer than the extra duty version.

    No shame is warranted. You are hardly the only person that questions professional tennis. There are many others, myself included. However, trying to use the fact that women use a slightly different (ITF-approved) ball for some tournaments as a justification for unequal prize money is absurd. While many of us will agree that the men should receive greater payments for best of 5 matches, I doubt that you will find much support for your opinion about the ball difference.

    Note that the current extra duty balls are a fairly recent development. They were primarily developed for longevity on the harsher hardcourt surfaces. It appears that they have also been sued to slow down the men's game.

    Not so strange really. The balls used for a particular event or surface has supposedly been selected to improve the quality of play (and the duration of rallies) for both the men's and women's games. With advancement in racquet technologies, the men's game during the 90s got to a point where it was very boring -- rallies often did not go past the serve or the return.

    A number of countermeasures have tried & incorporated primarily to adjust to the changing men's game. Courts have been made slower and balls have been made brighter. The larger type 3 ball was also developed in the late 90s in an effort to slow down the men's game.

    Not sure exactly when the current extra duty ball was developed and incorporated in pro tournaments. However, I do recall that some time back in the 90s, a different red label ball was used for some women's events. Given that a number of changes were made to suit the playing and viewing enjoyment of the men's game, why not allow this one (ball) difference to enhance the viewing/playing of the women's game?
     
  24. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    THE same ball is used fro all events at the AO

    I'm sorry, but I don't know which USO ball it would most resemble. I CAN say that they are lighter and less 'fuzzy' than the Slazenger Balls, either HC or GC...
     
  25. db10s

    db10s Hall of Fame

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    Another thing that is weird is the fact that the USO is the only slam to use different balls for men and women. But in mixed doubles they use mens balls......
     
  26. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    ^ The balls used for RG/FO is probably already equivalent to a regular-duty ball (since the extra-duty balls were designed for hard courts and, in the past, regular duty balls were used for clay court events).

    Not sure how much felt is on the ball for Wimbledon or the AO compared to the USO balls. I believe that the cans of balls used for men's matches at Wimby are opened the day before they are used. I don't know but they might do the same thing for the women's matches. The practice of opening the cans early allows the balls to lose a bit of internal air pressure and would be a little bit less lively off the strings and on the bounce. The balls should feel slightly softer than balls from freshly opened cans.

    How about other 7-round coed events such as Indian Wells? Do they use the same balls?

    Does anyone know if the AO balls are closer to the regular duty or the extra duty balls used at the USO?
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2012
  27. Wilander

    Wilander Rookie

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    The men play heavier balls to slow the game down. Noone wants to see service-shootouts without interesting rallies.
    The service-games of players like Isner and Raonic are boring enough already. Imagine they serve even faster...
     
  28. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    ^ The extra-duty balls are not necessarily heavier than regular-duty balls. As I indicated previously, the ITF specs for weight, size and other parameters are fairly narrow. The weight range for all ITF-approved balls is 1.975-2.095 ounces. The extra-duty ball might be on the high end of that narrow range or it might not might be substantially different than the corresponding regular-duty ball. The bounce height (and deformation specs) might not be significantly different either.

    The greatest difference between extra duty and regular duty balls may a difference in air drag due to the difference in the nature of the felt. With more air drag, the ball will tend to slow down a bit more as it flies thru the air. Air resistance is not a spec that is called out by ITF. The ball speed loss due to the ground interaction might very well be the same (or might differ slightly).
     
  29. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Definitely agree with the drag theory. The extra duty version do feel heavier than their regular duty counterparts but I've never weighed them.
     
  30. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    ^ The heavier feel may be something of an illusion. I recall using the larger type 3 balls (back in the late 90s?). Everyone insisted that these balls were heavier as well. However, it turns out that these larger balls were spec'd at the same weight (range) as type 1, type 2 (and high altitude) balls.

    Possible reasons for the heavier feeling:
    - Psychological
    - The dwell time on the strings may be slightly different
    - Increased drag may have created the illusion as players tried to swing harder
    - The ball may actually be a couple of grams heavier

    On average, balls approved for tournament play weigh about 58 grams (a scosh over 2 oz). Balls will probably vary no more than 2 or 3 grams from one model to the next (or even 1 ball to the next). I don't believe that you can actually weigh the slight difference with most food scales or a postal scales.
     
  31. NJ1

    NJ1 Professional

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    You seem to know tennis balls very well. Why is it that Penn ATPs and Marathon EXtra Duty's (are ATP and Marathon the same?) both feel heavier and preferable (to me) than US Open Extra Duties? also, to clear this up, XD just means the balls won't fluff up as quick as regular duty or that they will last longer period?

    Apologies if any of this has been answered already, but if you get chance to answer it would be interesting to hear your thoughts.
     
  32. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Interesting info. Perhaps because it takes more effort to hit the same length with a fuzzier ball, it feels heavier.
     
  33. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    ^ That sounds reasonable.

    I have not used any of the Marathon balls (have not even seen them in my area) and have not had the opportunity to use Wilson regular-duty USO balls either.

    The Head/Penn ATP balls that I've used are designated as extra-duty. I have not really noticed them "feeling" much heavier that US Open XD balls -- perhaps just a touch. But then when I use the ATP balls they are often not brand new (but not old either). The ambient temp (and humidity) and the racket I use (switching off between 3 quit a bit) and condition of my ailing shoulder can alter my perception of the ball.

    I often use the Penn Champs XD balls (not my preference, except on cold nights; ppl I play with seem sot like them tho'). The regular duty version is a bit livelier and does seem to feel lighter.

    XD balls would probably tend to fluff up more that regular duty simply because there is more fuzz/felt. They are not usually used on clay courts because of their tendency to fluff up too much. I have noticed that USO xd balls tend to fluff up more than the Penn Champ xd balls. However, this tendency to fluff up more is usually only evident when playing with certain players. Players who hit a lot of low, fast skidding shots (flat or underspin) tend to fluff up the USO xd balls quite a bit. When hitting with players who hit primarily topspin, the fluffing effect is considerably less.

    http://www.livestrong.com/article/406942-what-is-the-difference-between-hard-soft-court-tennis-balls
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
  34. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    It is heavier. because it has more felt on them. Wilson remade these balls due to complaints they had few years ago. Balls being too hard and being hard to control. Now they responded and they are perfect.:)
     
  35. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    If they are truly heavier, it is only a delta of 2-3 grams (with 57-58 grams as nominal). They cannot be any heavier than the ITF spec allow. The weight of the added felt can be offset by decreasing the rubber content slightly.
     
  36. Arsnlrob

    Arsnlrob Rookie

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    I got 4 match balls from the US open last week: 2 men's (black flame) and 2 women's (red flame). They look pretty much identical, and they both weighed 2.0-2.1 oz. The only thing that impressed me was how hard they are...barely compressible compared to a new can of consumer balls.
     
  37. cluckcluck

    cluckcluck Hall of Fame

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    Mind posting pictures for side by side comparisons?
     
  38. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Here is a couple of images from another thread:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The balls on the left in both pics are the XD balls and look ever-so-slightly larger than the balls on the right.
     
  39. cluckcluck

    cluckcluck Hall of Fame

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    Certainly looks like a lot more felt on the XD
     
  40. NJ1

    NJ1 Professional

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    Thank you for the writeup and your impressions, most appreciated.

    Yes Marathons are not as available as ATPs, but my stringer always gives me a can or two and they seem to play the same. (which is well)
     
  41. Arsnlrob

    Arsnlrob Rookie

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    Here are the 2012 balls. I notice just a little more felt on the black flame balls. The weights and sizes are identical from what I can measure.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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