SBD/May 24, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Several Players Critical Of New Babolat Balls Being Used At French Open

Djokovic says French Open balls move very fast, are difficult to control
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are among the players "complaining about new tennis balls, made by Babolat," that are being used at this year's French Open, according to Danielle Rossingh of BLOOMBERG NEWS. Djokovic said that the balls supplied by the French company are "harder to handle because they bounce higher on the clay courts in Paris and move faster through the air than last year's Dunlop balls, which were also used in warm-ups this year." He noted the balls are "very, very fast, so it's really difficult to control." However, Babolat said that its balls "meet standards set by the French tennis federation." Babolat spokesperson Annie Coghill said the company "developed the balls to meet the precise requirements provided." Rossingh noted French Open officials "blamed the weather for the players' concerns" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 5/22). French Tennis Federation Sponsorship Manager Christophe Hayaux du Tilly said that he "isn't bothered if the players say the ball is different, as long as they don't say it's defective." Hayaux du Tilly: "The important point is, no one said it is bad. All the players say this is a very good ball" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/24). ESPN’s Reischea Canidate noted claims "after running batteries of test on the balls, they are all the same as Dunlop balls in all specifications." Canidate: "However, Dunlop does say that their balls have 14 special ingredients. They really did say that" (“First Take,” ESPN2, 5/24).

SEEKING CONSISTENCY: Murray said, "I don't mind the ball. It probably helps me because it's fast. But I'd rather we played with the same ball during the clay court stretch and the same throughout the hard court stretch" (Scottish DAILY RECORD, 5/23). Roger Federer added, "I guess the disappointing part here in this whole story, because I'm hearing a lot of conversations about the balls, it's just that they're not the same from what we've just played for the last month" (REUTERS, 5/23).
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