AT The ATP Milan Event, Towels Will Kept On A Rack, Not With Ballboys (Top Players Not Impressed)
by Tom Gainey | October 10th, 2018, 11:32 am

One of the “innovations” at this year’s ATP Milan event, ballboys will no longer be in possession of sweaty, gross player towels. Instead, players will have to pick them up themselves off a towel rack, it was announced back in May.

Obviously this only impacts the younger players, but what do the top veterans think about this? Both Kei Nishikori and Roger Federer don’t sound convinced it’s a good idea because it will slow the game down at a time when the tour is trying to speed it up. And Rafael Nadal stated back in May he thought it was “stupid”.

Roger Federer:
Well, I think the idea of having the ball kids bring it to you is to speed up the points, you know, in between. If now you’ve got a hook or a rail in the back, I don’t know. It’s like are you wasting extra three seconds of time each and every point? Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but you add that over a five-hour match, next thing you know, you saw much less tennis and this match could have ended four-and-a-half hours earlier maybe or like a half an hour earlier.

So I mean, sure, try it out. See what happens. But it is true that all the players nowadays almost have towels just because it’s gotten more intense. Maybe we sweat more. I’m not sure what the deal is. Also for guys to relax quicker their mind. Maybe they feel like having the towel is something that brings them down.

But I think the idea of having the ball kid bring it and take it away from you again is to really save time so you don’t have to walk so far back and come back again. I think that’s the idea. So we’ll see.

Rafael Nadal:
I really think that we are doing sometimes stupid things. Because that’s not the big improvement on the sport at all, you know.

Ball boys are there for something. So, at the end of the day, it’s important to innovate, to create new things. But I really don’t believe that that creates any impact on the game. For me personally, I really don’t care at all.

But being honest, I don’t know. If they want us to go faster between points and now we have to go behind the court for the towel, we have to go running for the towel, too. So, don’t make much sense.

Kei Nishikori:
Maybe I don’t prefer that one. Maybe that may take some time, maybe. Well, they put the clock thing, you know, this year.

Oh, I think it was good, but at the same time it’s not easy. Sometimes, you know, you have to rush for the point. You have to think about the point, next points. So, I mean, it may be good for tennis, but, you know, I think some of the players struggling too.

Yeah, I see many positive things. They changing many things now, and, you know, not easy to change when you have, you know, many histories. Tennis has long history and not easy to change, I know, but it’s good to see something ATP is making some new things.

Among the other changes in Milan, players will have just four minutes instead of five for their warm-up.

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16 Comments for AT The ATP Milan Event, Towels Will Kept On A Rack, Not With Ballboys (Top Players Not Impressed)

RZ Says:

I’m all for this. The ball kids shouldn’t be handling sweaty (and in some cases bloody) towels. They are there to collect and provide the tennis balls. It may slow the game down by a few seconds but most players towel off more often than they really need to.

SG1 Says:

It’s certainly a way to reduce operating cost for the tournament organizers though I tend to agree with the players that this concept seems silly. Taking away a kids chance to be on the same court as their hero seems to be a really stupid idea.

RZ Says:

SG1 – The tournaments don’t add extra ball kids to provide towels; therefore the number of ball kids on the court won’t change. The kids still have the opportunity to share the court with the pros.

skeezer Says:

“Ball boys are there for something.”
Yes they are, that is why they are called “ball boys”, they get the balls. They are not towel boys, umbrella boys, etc.

Humble Rafa Says:

I am disappointed that I will no longer be able to give transfer my sweat to multiple people in a day in a kind and gentle manner. I think I will just save my sweat in a water bottle and hand it to the kids as their souvenir. Thanks ATP for your innovation.

Humble Rafa Sweat Water is coming to a tournament near you.

Annie Says:

Ball Boys??? Umbrella Boys??? WEll when it starts to rain and they tell the players to have a seat…the rain will stop in a minute…the ball kids are the ones holding the umbrellas… NOT THE PLAYERS!!!!
Who comes up w/all these dumb rules and for what purpose???SERIOUSLY??? What a crock!!!

Annie Says:

RZ…”Most players towel off more than they need to”???
Q: How would you REALLY know that???
A: You wouldn’t!!! You don’t know what they feel like in their bodies etc etc. One of the most ridiculous comments I’ve heard in a while!

Giles Says:

I agree Annie. Ridiculous indeed!!

RZ Says:

Annie – Do players need to towel off after their opponent has double-faulted? No, but many do anyway. Do players need to towel off after they or their opponent have hit an ace? No, but many do anyway. Do players need to towel off after every point in an indoor tournament where there is temperate control? No, but many do anyway.

I happen to play tennis competitively, and while I am admittedly nowhere near the level of the pros, I have played many 3 hour matches in 95 degree heat without ball kids to provide balls, let alone towels or umbrellas for shade. So I DO KNOW something about the need or lack of need to towel off. And neither I nor my opponents have toweled off between every single point, only during changeovers.

AndyMira Says:

Agree with u RZ!!

J-Kath Says:

Also agree 100% with RZ.

Giles – really?

RZ Says:

Thanks AM and J-Kath!
I think it’s funny that of all the various debates and discussions over the years on Tennis-X, my comment about players not needing to towel off as much as they do gets called out as one of the most ridiculous someone has heard.

AndyMira Says:

You’re welcome RZ!…I also don’t understand why your genuine comment got called out as ridiculous??What u said is true imo…

Some did for superstition like sascha said..and some of them did it bcoz they want to take an air for a bit..some did just to gather their thoughts & collect themselves after tough points…But like RZ said…they did it anyway…even when they don’t have to..

Margot Says:

AM, Jalep’s back! Yay! Give her a hug from me.
Lol RZ, that’s life, or tennis life even!

Giles Says:


AndyMira Says:

Yes M….She’s back…Insyaallah…i will give your hug to her…

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