Medical time-outs during WTA Tour matches could be drastically reduced by a radical new “user pays” system planned for next season. The women’s governing body intends to cap the number of occasions players are permitted to call a trainer on court for an extended consultation and issue bills for any excess.
As prizemoney soars to record levels despite the potential bite of the global economic crisis, the financial penalties are unlikely to inflict excessive pain, ranging from $US100 ($A151) per visit at smaller tournaments such as the new Brisbane International in January, to about $500 at the biggest, such as Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing.
The four grand slams, which are run by the International Tennis Federation, would be exempt from the cap, expected to be set at six or seven for the year. The ATP has no plans to introduce a similar system, but is likely to monitor its impact.
Peter Johnston, the WTA’s senior vice-president of operations, said the “nominal” charges were designed to minimise the number of unwarranted time-outs, with the revenue to be reinvested in its sports science services.
“We understand that medical time-outs can be legitimate but we want to make sure that players are conscious of how many they’re using up throughout the year, so we’re looking to find a system of capping them during the season,” said Johnston, the former Australian Open deputy tournament director.
“It would trigger what we’d call a service fee. It’s a sports science and health issue, so it’s almost like a pay-per-view. You can keep using them, but you pay for them, and the amount would depend on the level of the event. It’s not about us revenue-raising, it’s more just a mindset — like, ‘Hey, checkpoint, you’ve triggered this. Are they all legitimate?’ It discourages the practice of, ‘I’m feeling a bit weary, I might take a medical time-out’.”
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