August 29, 2018 / 10:03 PM / in 2 months

Shot clock gets mixed reception on Grand Slam debut

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As the U.S. Open moved into day three, players were still grappling with the new shot-clock rules, which allow players 25 seconds after the chair umpire announces the score to make their serve.

While some players have been issued warnings under the new rule, which made its Grand Slam debut this week, the umpire’s office said it was unaware of any players losing points as a result.

Even so, the shot clock has been a hot topic around Flushing Meadows, as players adjust to the quicker speed of play.

Former world number one Novak Djokovic, who previously said he was unconcerned about the clock, told reporters on Tuesday he was unhappy at how the new time rule had been implemented.

“U.S. Open has introduced it without really consulting players, which was not that nice, to be honest,” Djokovic said.

“The good thing is at least we had the U.S. Open Series tournaments, the ATP events ... with a shot clock so we could get used to it.”

But Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, who won her first-round match against Germany’s Andrea Petkovic Tuesday, told reporters she did not feel adequate time had been allowed to prepare.

“I mean, it’s a little bit strange because it’s in just since couple of tournaments and we still are not used to it,” Ostapenko said. “I’m not big fan of it.”

Defending women’s champion Sloane Stephens, who fought a gritty battle to clinch her third-round berth on Wednesday, said the shot clock added to the mounting list of factors to juggle.

“Between (the noise and distractions) and the shot clock, I got so much going on the court,” Stephens told reporters. “I’m trying to manage, like, eight different things.”

But there are players who don’t mind the clock — and, in some cases, are able to use it to their advantage.

“In the heat I think it shows a lot who has put in the work,” said American Taylor Fritz, who advanced to the third round on Wednesday.

“I think pressing somebody to be ready to go in 25 seconds makes the game more physical, so people don’t get more time to rest. So I like it a lot.”

Former U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka, who fought off French qualifier Ugo Humbert to claim his second-round win, thinks the clock is a welcome addition.

“I think it just gives a rhythm simple and clear for everybody: for the player, for the TV, for the fans,” Wawrinka said.

Reporting by Amy Tennery, editing by Ed Osmond

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