Posts Tagged ‘sports equipment’

U.S. Open Tennis: The Men Have Fuzzy Balls

August 30, 2022

Émile Vernon (1872 – 1919)

At the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, the men have fuzzy balls. The women have smooth balls, and they’re not happy about it.

To explain: Wilson makes both “regular-duty” and “extra-duty” tennis balls. The regular-duty balls are sold as “ideal for clay and indoor surfaces,” while the extra-duty are “ideal for longer play on hard court surfaces.” The U.S. Open is outdoors, a hard-court event. Men’s matches are played with “extra-duty” balls, as you’d expect, but women play with “regular-duty” balls.

The felt on the men’s “extra-duty” balls is fluffier, and the racquet strings get a better purchase on the thicker surface. The felt on the “regular-duty” women’s version has a tighter weave, feels lighter on the stringbed, and the balls play faster and go farther because they’re more aerodynamic.

Men and women play on the same courts, with the same type of racquets. No other major tennis tournament uses different balls for men and women. To make matters even worse, the “extra-duty” ball is used in the Open’s mixed doubles, a severe disadvantage for women doubles partners who have been playing with the “regular-duty” ball in the tournament’s women’s matches.


“Women use faster balls than men at U.S. Open. Some players are over it.” Julian Mark, Washington Post

“‘You’ve just started a war’: Iga Swiatek wades into row over US Open balls,” Tumaini Carayol, The Guardian

“Badosa joins Swiatek as she hits out at U.S. Open balls,” Anita Kobylinska, Reuters

“New Balls Please,” Giri Nathan, Racquet

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