Fritz, Tiafoe and Pegula Critical Of 'Heavy' Tennis Balls Used At The Citi Open

Fritz, Tiafoe and Pegula Critical Of 'Heavy' Tennis Balls Used At The Citi Open

by Nurein Ahmed

Three of the USA's top-ranked players have been highly critical of the tennis balls in use at this week's Citi Open in Washington.

Taylor Fritz, the top-ranked American on the ATP Tour, couldn't hold back on his assessment of the Tecnifibre X-One 2 balls which is the official ball of the tournament. And in the stifling conditions, it calls for unnecessary longer rallies, according to Fritz.

The Atlanta champion was forced to play two matches in a day following a rain-interrupted day four of the event that washed up almost half of Thursday's schedule. Fritz clocked over four hours of playing time on Friday.

The top seed in Washington needed precisely three hours to get past Andy Murray in a physically intense match played under the scorching afternoon sun. Then he came back later that evening to win his quarterfinal against Jordan Thomspon, taking his win tally to seven matches since the start of last week.

"These balls, I mean they're awful....the heaviest balls in the world."

"Yeah, it was a war. Just with how these balls are, they're so, like, just slow dead, it's really tough to, like, finish points. You're going to just inevitably have these really long, physical rallies."

Fritz's assessment of Citi Open tennis balls

Fellow American Frances Tiafoe echoed those sentiments in the aftermath of his shock straight sets defeat to British player Dan Evans. Like Fritz, Tiafoe played a couple of matches on Friday, but couldn't win them both.

"I feel all right. It was really muggy out there. I think the balls help him a lot. They are quite fluffy this week, so it's tough to hit through them. He's able to play his game quite nicely. It was hard, man. I mean, obviously, it's not really an excuse, he did the same thing as me. He stayed late last night, whatever, and he won a pretty convincing match earlier in the day."

"The balls are a bit puffy here. Slower conditions, which helps him with the slice and stuff, slowing me down. Yeah, definitely makes it more physical."

Tiafoe not a fan of the balls this week

Tiafoe applauded Evans for playing a near-perfect match, recording a single digit in the unforced error count. But at the same time, he struggled to hit, what he called, puffy balls, thanks to the British one-hander's artistry.

"We had some tough, long exchanges, running up and down, both have good hands, so extending points. Yeah, I mean, he made it super uncomfortable for me. He's made it tough for me, made me earn everything. I just wasn't able to convert it sometimes. He made me pay for it."

Tiafoe credits Evans

Jessica Pegula, the top seed in the women's draw, was perhaps the first to notice the state of the balls during the week. After her opening win over Peyton Stearns, Pegula said she had never played with such balls before and needed a few extra days trying to adjust, but was overly happy to make the trip early.

"Yeah, it was tricky. It was swirling there in the stadium. The balls felt kind of heavy."

"But, yeah, I'm glad that I did (arrived early), because the balls are a ball I have never played with before. It definitely took me a few days to, like, adjust my tension and get used to the conditions. So that kind of worked out."

Pegula comments on Citi Open tennis balls


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