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Tennis

ATP considering rule change after Verdasco's ballboy rant

The world governing body is studying the possibility of making players take care of their own towel necessities, a move that Rafa Nadal is against.

Video footage of Fernando Verdasco berating a ball boy at the Shenzhen tournament for not producing a towel in a time the Spaniard deemed acceptable did the rounds on the Internet and provoked criticism from Judy Murray and now, it appears, may even prompt a rule change on the part of the ATP.

The governing body for men’s tennis is looking into sparing ball boys and girls the ritual of handing over a sweat-drenched towel at every pause and is studying a proposal to install hooks on court so that players can see to their own perspiration between points.

The use of towels – a habit whose origins have been attributed to Greg Rusedski - has become ubiquitous in tennis and the Verdasco incident has lent further support to the camp in favour of relieving ball girls and boys from the duty of having them hurled in their direction every few seconds throughout a game.

The move has not met with the support of world number one Rafa Nadal, whose famous on-court tics include a thorough mopping between points, even if the Spaniard is among the more polite towel-requesters on the tour. “They [the ATP] want us to be quicker between points and now it looks like we’ll have to go running off court for a towel,” Nadal said of the proposal.

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