World number two Rafael Nadal has pleaded with tennis authorities to the limit the types of balls used at tournaments to safeguard the health of players.
Separate events use different balls, meaning players are often forced to adapt their game quickly – and face different physical challenges – from tournament to tournament in a packed schedule.
Speaking after his victory at the Shanghai Masters put him into the third round on Wednesday, Nadal, defeated in Sunday’s Japan Open final by Andy Murray, said his concerns were shared by other players.
His comments follow similar ones made by Murray on Tuesday and Nadal said French player Gilles Simon felt the same way.
“It’s unbelievable how the conditions can change from Tokyo to here. The ball is completely different. Something must change because it is too dangerous for the shoulders. For us it is a big change,” said Nadal.
The Spanish top seed called for a move to address the issue, which has been highlighted during the Asian swing.
“If we compare the Tokyo ball with this one, Tokyo was much bigger, slower.
“This ball is very fast. The ball flies a lot and is tough. But I have to play well with this ball. The problem is not the ball. The problem is the difference between two balls.”
Nadal said golf players would struggle if faced with the same problem.
“If you give the players a different ball in every tournament, they are going to be upset. That’s what’s happening here sometimes. That’s something that, in my opinion, can change.”
The Spaniard said it was not a case of having a standard ball but having a more planned approach without too much chopping and changing from week to week.
“Here, for example, you play in Bangkok one ball, Tokyo another ball, here another ball. That’s something that can change,” he said.
“You cannot change the ball every week. That’s too much, in my opinion. It is dangerous for the injuries,” he added.
When asked about the fact that the issue was related to commercial deals made by tournament organisers, Nadal said: “I am very happy to win less money and be more healthy.”
Britain’s Murray Tuesday spoke of how he would like to see more consistency in the balls used.
“The balls that we played with the last three weeks, every one of them is just completely different. I think that’s something that I would like to see changed,” he said. “It’s like playing a different game almost.”
World number four Murray also used the golf analogy, saying: “If you asked a golfer to do that and change balls every single week, they’d be hitting balls 20 yards too far, you know, hitting shots all over the place.”
Earlier this year Roger Federer hit out at the decision by Roland Garros organisers to introduce new balls. The new ball also caused concern among the women players at the French Open, who feared for their physical well-being.