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ATP chief to discuss time-violation rule with players

By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) chief Brad Drewett will meet with players on Saturday to address concerns over a new rule aimed at speeding up the game that has drawn criticism from professionals on the men's tour.

This year, the ATP are enforcing a regulation that allows players 25 seconds to complete a serve or face a warning and then the loss of a point for a second violation, sparking complaints from players who have fallen foul of the law.

Although grand slam matches have had an established time limit of 20 seconds for a number of years, the rule is not enforced and top players like Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic regularly flout it with drawn-out preparations to serves.

The new rule was endorsed by the ATP player's council last month but stricter enforcement at warm-up tournaments ahead of next week's Australian Open has raised concerns from players about a crackdown at the year's first grand slam where five-set matches in extreme heat often feature.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley on Friday signaled that players would be afforded some leeway at Melbourne Park, where officials would use "good sense, good judgment" in enforcing the 20-second rule.

"The Australian Open as a grand slam will not be doing anything different to what we've done in the past, we will still enforce the 20-second rule," he told reporters.

Last year's final between winner Djokovic and Nadal took five hours and 53 minutes, a record in grand slam finals, with both players taking breaks up to 30 seconds between points.

Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash said he supported the limits out of respect for tennis fans.

"I think they need to enforce them," the Australian said on Friday. "As much as we like Novak bouncing balls between points, I think the fans just want to see some tennis."

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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