The Grand Slam tournaments will be seeding only 16 players, instead of 32, from 2019 onwards. In a major decision, the tennis chiefs have agreed to return to the 16 seeding system for the first time ever since June 2001.
The decision taken in order to widen the sport’s appeal, both the men’s and women’s draws will be featuring only 16 seeded players in Wimbledon and the Australian, French and US Opens, reports Sport24.
The four Grand Slams had doubled the number of seeded players to 32 in June 2001, when the US Open, motivated by demands from television networks, asked for 32 seeds in the hope that stars would still be in contention in the closing rounds.
With the introduction of the 16 seeded players format again, the possibility of higher-ranked players facing the last seeded players will increase.
With 32 seeds, no player was forced to play someone ranked higher than No. 33 before the third round.
The Grand Slam Board meeting in London also decided to pay 50% of the first-round prize money to the injured players, who pull out on site before their opening match.
The board has also approved the Australian Open’s request to implement a 25-second serve clock system in line with the scheme trialled at the 2017 US Open to speed up play.
A player who is unable to finish the first-round match or “performs below professional standards” (if they are not believed to be injured) will be scrutinized and fined as high as the entire prize money due a loser in that round.
Players who violate the pre-match timing will also be fined up to $20,000. The pre-match timing gives a player one minute to meet at the net after walking on the court followed by a five minute warm-up, then one minute to be ready to begin the match.