Should tennis balls be made bigger?

Fri, 08 Apr 08:09:00 2011

Romanian tennis promoter Ion Tiriac believes changes including bigger, slower balls and blue courts would make the sport more attractive to the television audiences that are crucial for generating revenue.

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The self-made billionaire, who owns the Madrid Open tournament which begins at the end of this month, said in an interview that introducing Hawk-Eye technology to clay events to help with line calls would also be a positive step.

"I would make the ball at least 10 to 15 per cent bigger... to make the game a little bit slower," the extravagantly whiskered Tiriac said after the presentation of the new tournament trophy, which bears his name.

"I would also improve the colour of the court because as you know we are now the slaves of television," he added.

"I have 14,000 people in the stands (in Madrid) but I have more than 500 million if you consider China watching on the television."

The 71-year-old, a French Open doubles winner alongside Ilie Nastase in 1970 who also played ice hockey for his country, said it was "completely ridiculous" not to use Hawk-Eye on clay.

The technology is used for other surfaces but on clay umpires are regularly called on to leap from their chairs and check marks in the dust before making their calls.

"Hawk-Eye is a great achievement," added Tiriac, who cuts a striking figure with his oversized, tinted glasses and designer blue suit.

Spanish world number one Rafa Nadal won last year's men's title in Madrid, when he also became the first player to win all three clay Masters Series events in one year.

Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai took the women's crown when she upset Venus Williams in the Madrid final.

Reuters

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