In Picking Tennis Balls, Junk Science Meets OCD
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2009 2:00 PM CDT
Maria Sharapova of Russia.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – The meticulous attention a pro tennis player gives to choosing balls ahead of a serve is a little bit of science with a healthy dose of superstition—or even stalling. Players say balls that have seen more play are fluffier and therefore have more drag, though the consensus is that it makes no difference. “But I’m convinced in my head that it does,” fourth-ranked Novak Djokovic tells the New York Times.

Djokovic admits an ulterior motive: “You try to take your time, get a little focus,” he says. Oh, “and I look for a faster ball.” An exec from Wilson, which makes the US Open balls, isn’t buying it: New balls come in every seven to nine games, by which time they’ve all probably seen the same amount of play. “I don’t see it being a huge advantage,” he says. Player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga chalks it up to OCD.  “I think this one is good, I think this one is good,” he says, laughing. “They’re all the same.”